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Of Woodville, Miss. 

This work treats the principles of Moral Law in a lucid manner, 
and arranges the subjects so as to enable the student to take a com- 
prehensive view of the principles of morality. The author does 
not attempt to invent a system of morals, but adduces testimony 
from the inspired writings and the laws of nature, to establish those 
points which are considered doubtful, or concerning which moralists 
disagree. He makes the Bible his standard of right, and tests his 
positions by the Divine teachings. He believes that the Sacred 
Scriptures are the infallible guide in morals, and those principles 
can be so arranged as to form a book adapted to the use of schools, 
and interesting to the general reader. 

The chapters on Conscience, Natural Religion, and Slavery, are 
entirely different from what is usually taught in ethics. The sub- 
ject of Slavery is generally treated as though contrary to the will 
of God. In this work, it is proved to be in harmony with his will. 

The plan adopted by Wayland, Paley, Whewell, and others, is 
followed wherever the author could conscientiously agree with them. 

The tenets of no religious sect are discussed or recommended. The 
iLoral law is elucidated, and the principles of morality which form 
the basis of every system of Christian worship is explained. 

The work has been highly recommended by those who have exa- 
mined it. "We extract the following from a letter by John W. Bur- 
rus, Esq. : — 

"It impressed me as being independent in tone without assuming 
to be entirely original, calm in the c v "oussion of questions that are 
fiercely explosive, and pervaded by a manly reverence for God's 

Price $1.00. Sample copy (postpaid), for Teachers, 60 cts., and 
the most favorable terms for introduction. 

Illustrated by Sixty new and elegant Engravings. Price, Half Roan, 
75 cts. Sample copy, for Teachers, 40 cts., by mail, postpaid. 

JAMES CHALLEN & SON, Publishers, 

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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in and for the Eastern 
District of Pennsylvania. 



Since I commenced writing this book which I 
now offer to the public, frequent calls have been 
made by my fellow-citizens in various parts of 
the country for a work of this kind. In offering 
this to you, my fellow-citizens, I feel some doubt 
as to whether it possesses sufficient merit to fill 
the place of the work which you have been 
desiring. If it should prove to be sufficiently 
meritorious, I shall be gratified at being able to 
comply with your wishes whilst executing my 
own design. 

Being for a number of years impressed with a 
belief that much harm was being done by the 
false teaching of the Moral Philosophies now 
most popular, I determined to endeavor to pro- 
duce a work which should be more in harmony 

1* (V) 


with the precepts of the Sacred Scriptures than 
any now in use. 

In preparing this work I have endeavored to 
make the Bible my standard of right, and if in 
any instance I have failed to do so, I am not 
aware of the fact. I would not have any one 
adopt an opinion which I have advanced, unless 
that opinion is fully sustained by the Sacred 

I have not attempted to invent a system of 
morality ; believing that if I could arrange the 
principles of morality which are taught in the 
Sacred Scriptures so as to form a book adapted to 
the use of schools and interesting to the general 
reader, enough would be accomplished. 

On examining this work, you will find that 
many subjects are treated of in a manner quite 
different from the common teaching. You will 
find that the chapters on conscience, natural 
religion, and slavery are entirely different from 
what is usually taught in Ethics. 

In preparing this work, the authors whom I 
have consulted mostly are Messrs. Wayland, 
Paley, and Whewell. In writing upon subjects 


concerning which I agreed with these authors, 1 
have followed to some extent the plan which 
they have marked out. It is not to be expected 
that a work on the elements of morality shall be 
wholly original ; for many of the principles of 
Ethics are too well established to admit of the 
possibility of producing a correct treatise on 
Moral Philosophy which is entirely original. 1 
have no desire to make old things seem to be 
new, but wish rather, to render " honor to whom 
honor is due ;" and regret exceedingly that there 
is so great necessity for a change in the Moral ' 
Philosophies now used. 

I regret this, not because the knowledge of 
the fact has induced me to undergo the labor 
which was necessary to prepare this volume, but 
because the name of those who have to unlearn 
what they have learned amiss, in Ethics, is 
" Legion." 






Elements of Morality . 13 

Law ........... 15 

The Origin of our Notions of the Moral Quality of Actions . 37 


Conscience .......... 56 

Virtue 79 

Human Happiness ........ 100 


Moral Obligation 114 





The Will of God. Natural Religion considered . . . 125 


The Bible 157 

Love to God 174 

Gratitude 188 

Prayer 193 

The Lord's Day 204 

Polygamy 213 

Marriage 219 

Duties of Parents ........ 226 

Duties of Children 242 

The Duties of Servants — Slavery 253 




Of Property 298 

Violations of the Right of Property .... 317 

Promises 323 

Contracts 329 

Lies 333 

Slander 343 

Drunkenness 356 

Oaths 366 


General Remarks on Government 876 

Civil Government • . 384 

Duties of Government Officers 407 





It may be somewhat perplexing to those who are 
about to begin the stucly of ethics, to decide why any 
work on the elements of morality should be studied, 
when they remember that the Sacred Scriptures con- 
tain the will of God as revealed to man, and that all 
the moral law with which we are acquainted, and 
which we are under any obligation to obey, must pro- 
ceed from that source; that all the information we 
need to enable us to be righteous in the sight of God, 
2 (13) 


and all the precepts necessary for the regulation, of 
our moral conduct, are written upon those sacred 

The Elements of Morality cannot suffice as a sub- 
stitute for the Sacred Scriptures. Poor, indeed, would 
be the substitute, and dim the light which it would 
afford to mankind. 

The object of a work of this kind is, to treat of the 
principles of moral law in a lucid manner, and so to 
arrange the subjects as to enable the student the more 
readily to take a comprehensive view of the princi- 
ples of morality, and thereby be aided in a more 
thorough investigation of the doctrines taught in the 
Sacred Scriptures ; to show what the moral law is 
concerning various human actions, and to adduce 
such testimony, both from the Sacred Scriptures and 
from the laws of nature, as will suffice to establish 
those points of the law that may be considered doubt- 
ful, or concerning which moralists disagree. 

Our object in offering some arguments drawn from 
natural consequences will not be to strengthen the 
proof which the Bible affords concerning any moral 
obligation ; for if it is established by Scriptural teach- 
ing that it is our duty to perform any particular act, 
or conform our lives to certain rules, we consider it 
morally certain that it is our duty to do so. But hav- 
ing learned our duty from the Sacred Scriptures, if 


some should still doubt, there is always ample proof 
outside of the Bible to convince any one who is will- 
ing to know the truth, that obedience to the rules of 
action contained in that book, will contribute more to 
our happiness, both in this life and in the life to come, 
than any other course of conduct which we can pursue. 
The truths taught in the Elements of Morality inter- 
fere with the tenets of no religious sect, for no form of 
worship is either discussed or recommended, only the 
moral law is elucidated and those principles of moral- 
ity which form the basis of every system of Christian 
worship are explained. These are subjects of common 
interest concerning which we can all calmly reason 
with each other, and together study the important 
truths they teach, affected by a single impulse, — the 
desire of knowing the truth. 


Our object is to acquire knowledge of the Moral 
Law. In our investigation of the various subjects of 
which we must necessarily treat, we should have some 
standard by which to determine whether our views are 
true or false. We should neither be guided by the 
dictates of conscience, nor by what we may suppose 
the laws of nature teach us, in determining what is 
right and what wrong in morals. The Sacred Scrip- 
tures are the only infallible guide in morals. If we 


can find there a " Thus saith the Lord,' 1 ' 1 we know that 


it is right. 

We are under no obligation whatever to yield obe- 
dience to any law or rule of action which men may 
choose to establish, except those by which we are 
governed in our social relations, and which are enacted 
by the individuals to whom the citizens of a state have, 
by common consent, granted the right of enactment. 

If men publish a code of laws or a system of rules 
which they denominate Moral Science, Ethics, or Ele- 
ments of Morality, we have a right, it is our duty, to 
try that system by the standard which God has given 
us. In him alone all authority over the morals of men 
is vested, and without his will there is no moral law. 

He, as our Creator, has the right to enact laws by 
which we shall be governed ; His is an authority which 
no man can question ; a right not derived from public 
opinion or the will of the majority, but an inherent 
right, the right of a Creator to govern the thing 

If we calmly yield our assent to rules which are said 
to inculcate the principles of Moral Law, without first 
trying them by that standard of right which our Cre- 
ator has most graciously provided for us, we may be 
unwittingly violating those laws which we suppose we 
are scrupulously obeying. 

The word law is a term which is familiar to every 


one, and therefore need not be denned. If we should 
wish to define it, it would be difficult to express its 
meaning in words which are more familiar than the 
word itself. It is, however, necessary to observe that 
the signification of the word is sometimes varied by 
the connection in which it is used. When we speak 
of the laws by which the citizens of a state are 
governed, the term laws, as here used, signifies certain' 
rules, established by proper authority, for the govern- 
ment of our actions as citizens of a state. When we 
speak of physical laws, I think the term law signifies 
an established sequence. When we speak of moral law, 
the term signifies a rule of action established by our 
Creator for our government as moral agents. 

Man is governed by certain laws which are enacted 
expressly for the purpose of regulating his actions as 
a social being ; by certain other laws which pertain to 
his physical organization, and by still another form of 
law which has authority over the morals of men. 

It is important that he should have a knowledge of 
the laws which govern him as a social being, in order 
that he may know what duties are required of him by 
the society of which he is a member, and that he may 
be conscious of the obligations which others owe to 
Aim. Without this knowledge he is not apt to be a 
contented and happy citizen. Being ignorant of the 
law, he is liable to trespass on his neighbor's rights 


and offend others, not only without designing to do 
wrong, but without even knowing in what particular 
he has erred ; and his ignorance of the law offers a 
temptation to designing, wicked men to restrict his 
privileges, and claim for themselves rights superior to 
those which they are willing to allow him. 

A knowledge of the laws by which our physical 
organization is governed, is necessary, that we may 
be enabled to preserve our health, and increase the 
number of our days. 

If we are not acquainted with these laws, we may 
ignorantly perform some act which will cause us to be 
afflicted, render us miserable and unhappy beings, or 
perhaps snap the thread of life, and hurry us down to 
an untimely grave. 

If we violate the laws of hygiene, we forfeit our 
right to health, and must suffer the tortures of that 
disease which is the natural consequent of disobedi- 
ence to the law which we have violated. If we 
imbibe a sufficient quantity of poison to produce 
death, we must shortly die; if the inflicting of the 
penalty for this violation of law, be not averted by 
the timely aid of a skilful physician. If we breathe 
an atmosphere which is impregnated with the miasma 
of an epidemic disease, or come within the circle of 
a contagion, we are almost sure to be afflicted with 
that disease within whose range we have had the 


temerity to venture, unless, by a knowledge of the 
laws which govern the disease, we have been able 
previously to render ourselves impervious to its debili- 
tating influence. 

It is equally important for us to understand the 
moral law, lest we should, like Paul, find that we are 
acting contrary to the will of God, when we verily 
believe that we are doing God service. We do not 
always do right when we know our duty ; we are not 
apt often to do so ignorantly, and if we should, it 
would be merely an accident, for which we should 
deserve no praise, and from which we could derive no 
gratification, being ignorant of it. Unless we under- 
stand the moral law, and know what God wills for us 
to do, we cannot secure the blessings which he has 
promised to bestow upon those who faithfully perform 
his will. 

The laws which govern man as a social being, 
direct his actions as a member of a certain community, 
and are designed only to govern such of his actions 
as have some relation to his happiness as a member 
of that community. They would forbid murder, and 
perhaps punish a violation of the law in this respect, 
with death ; because, if one man should be permitted 
to indulge his desire for revenge to so great an extent 
as to murder the man who has offended him, others 
might choose to avail themselves of the same privilege, 


and the whole community be in a short time dispersed 
or destroyed. The blessings which obedience to the 
civil laws secure to us are the protection of our rights, 
and the preservation of our liberties. The punish- 
ments are principally corporeal, and their greatest 
severity consists in taking the life of the criminal. 

The laws which govern man's physical organization, 
have jurisdiction over him as an individual, and are 
designed to contribute to his happiness as a being 
independent of the rest of mankind ; and the punish- 
ment for disobedience to these laws also consists in the 
sufferings of the flesh, and terminates in death. 

The moral law is much more comprehensive than 
either of the others. They regard man's happiness 
only as a temporal being, an inhabitant of earth ; 
whilst the moral law comprises rules which are capable 
of contributing to his happiness, not only as a temporal 
being, an ephemeral creature whose existence, or whose 
ceasing to exist, has no perceptible bearing on the 
economy of creation ; not as a dweller on earth alone, 
but also as an inhabitant of eternity. 

The moral law differs in its operations from the civil 
law and the laws governing our physical organization, 
in several remarkable particulars. 

The punishment which is inflicted for a violation 
of these laws, usually follows the offence in quick 
succession ; but the punishment for a violation of moral 


law ; if inflicted on earth at all, is never full y completed 
in this world. Our Creator is merciful, and delays 
the punishment for moral depravity until the whole 
journey of life is passed over, except so far as our 
immorality causes us to violate laws governing our 
physical nature. He gives us ample time to change 
our conduct, to cease to do evil, and learn to do well, 
before^He pronounces the final sentence, " Depart from 
me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire !" 

The punishment which we must endure for offences 
against the moral law, though delayed for a longer 
period of time, being not inflicted in life, except to a 
very limited extent, is addressed to the soul ; begin- 
ning after death, and continuing through vast eter- 

Inasmuch as the soul is capable of feeling intensely 
the sufferings that may be inflicted for disobeying God, 
and since that suffering is to last through all eternity, 
we must perceive that the difference between the 
penalty to be inflicted for a violation of civil or physi- 
cal law, and the never ceasing- torment of an eternal 
banishment from the presence of Grod, is incalculable. 

The rewards which are bestowed on men for obedi- 
ence to these different forms of law, are as dissimilar 
as the punishments which are inflicted for a violation 
of them. 

Our reward for obedience to the laws of our country, 


is tlie protection of our property, our lives, and our 
civil liberties. 

The reward "which is granted us for obedience to 
the laws of our physical organization, is health, and 
consequently long life. 

The reward of obedience to the moral law, as con- 
tained in the Sacred Scriptures, is a crown of glory 
that fadeth not away ; the joys of life everlasting. 

It should be the grand object of our lives, then, to 
acquire a knowledge of the moral law, and obey its 
requisitions. Its authority is over us always ; the 
blessings of obedience to its requirements are of the 
most exalted nature, enduring for ever ; and the suffer- 
ing for disobedience is intense and unceasing agony. 

The moral law condemns or excuses us, according 
to our actions. 

In acquiring a knowledge of the moral law, one of 
the first and most important steps is to comprehend 
the nature of our actions. Our actions are always 
right when performed in obedience to the moral law, 
and wrong when in violation of the moral precepts. 

It becomes a question of great importance to know 
how to decide whether our actions are in obedience to 
the moral law or not, when we remember that it is 
by our actions that we shall be judged ; that if our 
actions are in obedience to the will of God, He can at 
last receive us with the welcome plaudit, Well done, 


good and faithful servant ; but he cannot say "well 
done, when we have not acted in obedience to his will. 

The following passages of the Sacred Scriptures 
confirm us in the opinion that it is by our actions that 
we are to be judged. Sam. i. 2, 3, "For the Lord is a 
God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed." 
James ii. 24, " By works a man is justified." Matt. xvi. 
27, " For the Son of man shall come in the glory of 
his Father with his angels ; and then he shall reward 
every man according to his works." Eev. xx. 12, 
"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before 
God ; and the books were opened ; and another book 
was opened, which is the book of life ; and the dead 
were judged out of those things which were written in 
the books, according to their works." 

It is plain that an action is right which is in accord- 
ance with the will of God, and wrong when it is not. 
If we know the will of God and have the power to 
obey it, we may, without doubt, do that which is right. 
But many occasions occur in which we are doubtful 
what it is our duty to do, and even when we know our 
dnty, it may be exceedingly difficult to perform it ; the 
path of duty may be, and often is, strewn with thorns. 
No one, I suppose, will imagine that we are excusable 
for not doing our duty, simply because it is difficult 
for us to perform it. But, owing to the influence 
which our own actions exert upon our happiness, it 


will be interesting and profitable for ns to study very 
minutely the nature of human actions. 

Since sane men never do anything "without having 
some design in view, without desiring to accomplish 
some object by the action which they perform, and 
since there can be no doubt as to the nature of the in- 
tention, if we know what one's intention is ; we usually 
endeavor to learn what is the intention which has 
prompted a man to the performance of a certain action, 
before we condemn or excuse him. If he intends to 
do what is right, and fails to do it from some cause 
which he has no power to avert, we think he is excusa- 
ble. This, however, cannot make a wrong action 
right. If a man thus intending to do right fails to do 
so, and unintentionally does something that is wrong, 
he may be excused for the wrong he has done, but can- 
not claim a reward for having done right, merely 
because he intended to do so. How can he claim a 
reward for doing right, when he knows that he has 
done wrong ? If, during life, we suppose that we have 
been performing the will of God in all our acts, when 
we appear before the Majesty on high and learn that 
we have been acting contrary to his will, can we say, 
Lord, I have performed Thy will on earth, what bless- 
ing wilt Thou confer on Thy servant ? 

We cannot reasonably expect a reward for actions 
we have not performed, or for those things which we 


have done that Ave ought not to have clone ; but we 
may hope to be forgiven, if our misdeeds were per- 
formed under the influence of a desire to do right, and 
expect a reward for doing those acts which our Father 
in heaven has promised to reward us for performing. 

The nature of the actions which men perform is fre- 
quently very different from that of the intention with 
which they act. A man may intend to tell the truth, 
but from a lack of correct information on the subject 
concerning which he is speaking, may utter that which 
is false. We would not accuse that man of a want of 
veracity, nor could we say that he had told the truth. 

The question may be presented in this way : If a 
man does wrong when he intends to do right, does he 
deserve praise or blame ? He would certainly deserve 
the approbation of all good men for having a good in- 
tention ; that is, for intending to do right ; but this 
does not cover all the grounds of the question. He 
may have done wrong through ignorance, and his 
ignorance of his duty may have been his own fault. 
In this case he would not deserve praise, although he 
intended to do right ; for his failure to do so would be 
his own fault. He would be twice in fault. First, 
because he had not used the means in his power to 
learn his duty ; and secondly, because he performed an 
act which was wrong. If he did wrong when he in- 
tended to do right, and accident, or some agency 


entirely beyond his control, changed the nature of the 
action, then he would be free from all blame, and 
deserve only praise. His intention then could alone 
be taken into account, for the act performed could not 
justly be considered his act ; since some unavoidable 
circumstance entirely changed the nature of the act 
which he attempted to perform. For example, Sir 
Walter Tyrrel, whilst hunting with King William 
Eufus, aimed an arrow at a fleeting deer which they 
were pursuing with all the ardor of an exciting 
chase. The arrow, though aimed by the most skilful 
archer in England, was directed amiss, and striking 
lightly against the side of a tree, turned from the 
direction in which it was aimed, and entering the body 
of the king, caused his death. 

In such a case the intention only could be consi- 
dered,- since the sport in which they were engaged was 
strictly lawful. And the act of killing the king could 
not justly be called the act of Sir Walter. His act 
was that of shooting at a deer. The fact of killing 
the king was the result of a force acting upon his 
arrow after it had left his hand, and when he had not 
the least power over it. 

In such cases we are inclined to pity rather than 
blame the individual who is so nearly concerned with 
an event which, if voluntarily performed by him, 
would render him liable to suffer the severest punish- 


ment. And we have no reason to believe that our 
Creator would hold one guilty who is so situated. 

In most of the acts which men perform, the action 
harmonizes with the intention. But that a man does 
not always perform the act which he intends, is so well 
known that the laws of enlightened nations provide 
for such occurrences, which are deemed accidental and 
not punishable. 

Accident, or some agency which a man cannot con- 
trol, may prevent him from performing a wicked 
design. He is then culpable on account of the inten- 
tion. As in the case previously mentioned, if he in- 
tends to perform an act which is right, but some agency 
which he cannot control changes the nature of the act, 
he is not held guilty ; so, in the present case, if he 
intends to perform a wrong action, and some agency 
which he cannot control changes the nature of the act 
he would perform, he is held guilty, according to 
moral law, of the act which he intended to perform. 
For the reason before given, the act cannot justly be 
considered his own if its nature is changed by acci- 
dent or some agency which he cannot control ; but 
the wrong intention certainly is his, and he deserves 
as much blame for intending to do wrong as he would 
have deserved praise, had his intention been to do 

We find, then, but two cases in which a man will be 


judged by his intention only, and not "by the act per- 
formed ; and in both these cases the act performed is 
not strictly his own act. If we were to be judged 
by our intention alone, and not at all by the act per- 
formed or any collateral circumstance, if our intention 
to do right makes a wrong action a right one or our 
intention to do wrong makes a right action wrong, all 
we have to do, in order to fill the requirements of the 
moral law, is to intend to do right. We are, according 
to this rule, under no obligation at all to make an 
effort to learn what is right, because, although we may 
have the means of learning (rod's will, 'still we need 
not put ourselves to any trouble, if we will just intend 
to do right ; this is all the rule requires of us, and 
according to it we are guiltless, no matter how many 
wrong acts we perform, if we only intend to do right. 
By this rule, even if we have a direct command from 
God to perform a certain act, in a certain way, if we 
intend to perform the act or something else like it, it 
matters not if we do choose a different mode of per- 
forming it from that which we were commanded, it 
will do just as well. We might even think our 
plan of obeying the command better than the one 
ordered ; if we are to be judged by our intention only, 
we certainly would deserve great praise for thus act- 
ing, although our plan might pervert entirely the 
nature of the act which God intended us to perform. 


This rule will not stand the test which, ought to be 
applied to every question in morals, viz., the teaching 
of the sacred Scriptures. 

Let us consider the case of Saul (1 Samuel xv.). 
God commanded that King Saul should " smite Ama- 
lek, and utterly destroy all that they had, and spare 
them not ; but slay both man and woman, infant and 
suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." King Saul 
obeyed the command in part only ; he utterly destroyed 
all the people with the edge of the sword, but spared 
Agag the king of the Amalekites. He also spared 
the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice to the 
Lord. His intention was evidently right. He in- 
tended to obey the Lord, but chose his own plan for 
doing it ; and, even in the portion of the command 
which he disobeyed, the circumstances were of such a 
nature as to prove that his intention was to please 
God. He spared a part of the sheep and oxen, not for 
his own use, but to sacrifice unto the Lord. He con- 
sidered that he had done right and performed the 
command of God. When Samuel came to him, Saul 
said, "Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed 
the commandment of the Lord." Samuel said, "What 
meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, 
and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" If Saul 
had been judged according to the intention only, and 
not according to the act he performed, which was an 


act of disobedience, when it was wholly in his power 
to have obeyed the command of the Lord, his kingdom 
would not have been taken away from him, nor would 
he have been compelled to endure the sufferings which 
were the penalty of his disobedience. If Saul had 
been judged according to the intention, Samuel would 
not have said to him, "Behold, to obey is better than 
sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." He 
would have thought that Saul deserved praise rather 
than blame. The case of Uzza teaches the same 
lesson. (2 Samuel vi.) The case also of the prophet 
who went out of Judah unto Bethel to make a certain 
prophecy, also teaches us that we are to be judged by 
our actions, and not by our intentions, except when 
it is impossible for us to do what we intend. The 
example to which we allude may be found in 1 Kings 

Such examples prove conclusively that we shall 
not be judged according to our intention only, but 
according- to our works. We are satisfied that the 
Lord " will render to every man according to his 
deeds;" that "we must all appear before the judg- 
ment seat of Christ ; every one may receive the 
things done in his body, according to that he hath 
done, whether it be good or bad." 

We are held guilty for intending to do wrong, and 
deserving of praise for intending to do right, when it 


is impossible on account of circumstances that we 
cannot control, for us to perform the actions which 
we intend doing. Matthew v. 28, furnishes an exam- 
ple to prove that we are held guilty of an evil action, 
if we intend to perform such deed. But every evil 
desire that enters a man's mind cannot be charged 
against him as a crime. He may suppress such a 
desire from pious motives ; in this case, he would 
deserve praise rather than blame ; not for allowing a 
wicked desire to enter his mind, but for rejecting it 
from praiseworthy motives. 

No man is, perhaps, so pure that unrighteous 
desires never enter his mind ; temptations of this 
kind may assail the best of men ; but he who inva- 
riably rejects every evil wish, will seldom be tempted 
by impure desires, and if he is, he can readily resist 
their persuasive influence. 

If we intend to perform a righteous action, but are 
prevented from doing so by some cause which we 
cannot control, we are accounted worthy of praise. 
If we intend to do a favor for a friend, and prove our 
intention by making every effort in our power to 
serve him, even if we do fail to accomplish our object, 
still he will feel grateful for our efforts in his behalf, 
and will remember our kind intentions with pleasing 

Abraham intended to sacrifice Isaac, his son, to 


the Lord, in obedience to the Lord's command, and 
he was only prevented from doing so by divine inter- 
position. After he had bonnd his son on the rude 
altar, and even whilst he was raising the glittering 
steel to plunge it into the bosom of his devoted child, 
an angel of the Lord called unto him from heaven 
and said, "Lay not thy hand on the lad, neither do 
thou anything unto him." This obedience of Abra- 
ham in such a" case was owing to his unbounded faith 
in the Lord ; therefore the Lord imputed that faith 
unto him for righteousness. We have here appa- 
rently a case of the Lord's rewarding a man because 
his intention was to obey the command which he had 
received ; but in this case there was no act of disobe- 
dience whatever, for Abraham was prevented from 
performing the first command by a later command 
revoking the former, and that, too, at the very moment 
when his obedience to the former command was being 
consummated. Even in this case the reward was not 
granted for intention alone ; the intention was accom- 
panied by every corresponding act of obedience that 
he was allowed to perform ; and he ceased not to per- 
form the command which God had given him until 
that command was revoked. 

With regard to the relation between the intention 
and the act which is performed, the following cases 
may occur : — 


1st. The intention may be wrong, yet, owing to some 
contingent circumstance, the act performed may, in 
itself considered, be praiseworthy. As when a man, 
through a desire to gratify a mischievous propensity, 
intends to direct a traveller on the wrong road, but by 
mistake directs him aright ; or in case one intends to 
tell a falsehood, but unconsciously utters the truth. 

In such instances, the individual deserves no praise 
for the good deeds performed, for it is by accident, and 
not from design, that he does what is right. Of course 
he deserves no reward for what is accomplished through 
some other agency. He sustains the position of a ma- 
chine, and deserves no more honor for performing a 
right action, under such circumstances, than an apple 
does for being sweet, or a rose for being beautiful. 

2d. It sometimes happens that an individual intends 
to do what is right, but by accident, or some agency 
which he cannot control, really peforms a very wicked 
deed. As when, discharging a gun at some pestiferous 
wild animal, missing his aim, the charge inflicts a mor- 
tal wound upon a friend, of whose being in the range 
of the animal he was not aware, and which he did not 
even suspect. It is evident that although he is the 
agent in causing a man's death, yet he cannot be 
charged with crime. 

3d. Numerous cases occur in which the act and in- 


tention are both right. Such actions need no comment; 
they praise themselves. 

4th. The reverse of the preceding case, I fear, as 
often happens, in which the intention and act performed 
coincide in being wrong; in such cases, the merits or 
demerits of the actions are easily perceived, without 
the aid of philosophy. 

If we ask the question, upon what does the moral 
quality of an action depend? many reasons may be 
given for believing that it depends upon the intention. 
The arguments, however, cannot be taken from the 
Sacred Scriptures, because the Bible does not teach us 
that the moral quality of actions depends on the inten- 
tion, nor are they founded in truth. They are argu- 
ments having the semblance of truth, but in reality 
teaching a principle contrary to that which is taught 

in the- Bible. 

The expression, the moral quality of actions, is one 
which conveys a vague, indefinite idea to the minds of 
many persons, and on this account, they readily believe 
a man, when he tells them that the moral quality of an 
action depends on the intention, and offers some reasons 
which seem to confirm his opinion. No man will be- 
lieve you, if you tell him that intending to do right 
will make a wrong action right, or that intending to do 
wrong, makes right wrong. The terms, right and 
wrong, convey a clear and definite idea to the mind of 


every intelligent person, and no one will believe that 
an action is right unless it is in obedience to the will 
of God ; and no matter what you say about your in- 
tention, you cannot convince a man that you have done 
right, when he knows that you have done something 
which is contrary to the will of God. He may readily 
believe that you intended to do right, but he very well 
knows that you did not do as you intended. But con- 
vince him that the moral quality of an action depends on 
the intention, and then ask him if you did not do right ; 
what answer could he make ? He knows that to do 
right is to obey the will of God, yet if he believes that 
the moral quality of an action depends on the intention, 
he is confused, and scarcely knows whether you did 
right or not, although he knows that any act which is 
contrary to the will of God is wrong. 

To prove that the moral quality of our actions de- 
pends on the intention, we must prove that it does not 
depend on obedience to the will of God ; that our actions 
are right when we intend to do God's will, whether we 
do so or not ; that they are right \mder such circum- 
stances, even when contrary to the will of God. 

The moral quality of an action, must signify that 
property of an action which determines whether the 
action is right or wrong. This cannot be the intention, 
for the intention alone cannot determine whether the 
act is according to God's will or not. We must com- 


pare the act performed with what we know to be God's 
will concerning such actions, before we can decide whe- 
ther the act is right or wrong. 

Acting upon the principle that the intention alone is 
to be considered in judging of the merit or demerit of 
human actions, men may do pretty much as they please, 
and still claim to be servants of Grod. Upon this prin- 
ciple, if we intend to do right, we perform God's will, 
whether we do what he has commanded or not. It is 
Grod's will that we should assist the needy. Suppose 
we defraud our neighbor, who is in prosperous cir- 
cumstances, to obtain the means of assisting an indigent 
person who is suffering for the want of food and clothing. 
Our intention to relieve the distressed would be right, 
but every one must know that the rectitude of our in- 
tention to relieve the distress of others, does not make 
it right for us to defraud our neighbor to obtain the 
means of doing so. It is evident, in such a case, a 
right intention cannot justify a wrong act ; nor can it 
in any case, except where the nature of the act is 
changed by accident or some cause which we cannot 
control ; and then the act performed is not strictly our 




Moralists entertain different opinions concerning 
the origin of our notions of the moral quality of 
actions. That which seems to be the most generally 
received, is that our notion of the moral quality of 
actions is instinctive. Because an opinion is generally 
believed, or because it is supported by a popular 
author, is no proof of its truthfulness. 

An opinion which cannot be proved with the cer- 
tainty of a mathematical demonstration, the truth of 
which can only be arrived at by a correct train of 
moral reasoning, should not be received as an undeni- 
able truth, either because many believe it, or because 
a favorite author defends it. 

When Galileo proclaimed to the world the newly- 
discovered truth, that the sun, and not the earth, is 
the centre of the solar system, around which the 
earth and other planets move in their appointed 
course, this doctrine was considered an abominable 

The popular opinion then was, that, the earth being 
fixed in a oertain position, all the bright luminaries 


of the skies revolved around it. The majority of 
learned men believed this doctrine, and endeavored 
to confirm the opinion that the earth is the immova- 
ble centre of the universe. The belief was sanctioned 
by the greatest men of ancient times ; it had long been 
taught ; it was conformable to the common appearance 
of things: Yet, notwithstanding these evidences in its 
favor, it was false. Galileo knew this. 

Impressed with an ardent love of truth and a desire 
to make known his valuable discoveries, he published 
a work explaining the theory. 

It happened that the religious people of those days 
believed that his theory was opposed to their religious 
tenets; they therefore condemned the theory, and 
persecuted its author. 

A congregation of cardinals, monks, and mathemati- 
cians, was appointed to examine his work, which 
they unhesitatingly condemned as highly dangerous, 
and summoned him before the tribunal of inquisition. 
He was compelled to go to Rome, and was immediately 
immured in a cell in one of the prisons of the Inquisi- 
tion. Being brought forth from this imprisonment, < 
before an assembly of judges, he was condemned to 
renounce, with his hands upon the Bible, the truths 
which he had published, and which were denounced 
as detestable errors and heresies. 

Overawed by the power of his judges, and the 


dangers of his present situation, Galileo's firmness 
gave way, and he pronounced the recantation. But 
when he arose, his heart swelling with indignation 
at having sworn in violation of his conviction, he 
stamped with his foot and exclaimed, It still moves. 

The case of Galileo is not an isolated one ; many 
discoverers of truths that had long been concealed 
from mankind, have suffered severely from having 
boldly proclaimed them to the world. 

If a man under such trying circumstances, would 
announce the truth to an ignorant, ungrateful, and 
cruel people who would rejoice at seeing him tortured, 
for the favor which he had bestowed upon them, it 
does seem that science ought to make rapid strides in 
a land of liberty like that which we possess, a land 
inhabited by an enlightened and progressive people. 

This is truly the case with regard to some of the 
departments of science, but it seems that some authors 
endeavor to involve certain subjects which are treated 
of in their works on morality, in as much mystery as 
possible ; for what purpose I cannot tell, unless it is 
done from a desire to render the subject unintelligible, 
and thereby enable them to offer a more plausible 
reason for certain fanciful or fanatical notions which 
they desire to defend. 

The subject which we are now about to examine, is 
one of this class. 


It seems to me, that he who undertakes to tell us 
from whence we derive our notions of the moral 
quality of actions, only renders it more difficult for 
us to discover the truth ourselves, by telling us that 
those ideas are instinctive. 

We know that man is mainly distinguished from the 
brute by being guided by reason instead of instinct, 
and when one of our best reasoners begins to mix this 
attribute of brutes with reason, it confuses us. 

But since this idea has obtained a considerable 
degree of notoriety, we will see if it has any just 
claims to our belief. We will try it first by the un- 
erring test given by our Saviour in Luke vi. 43, 44, 
" A good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit ; neither 
doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit ; every tree 
is known by his own fruit." 

I think that the hypothesis, our notion of the moral 
quality of actions is instructive, will soon be pro- 
nounced erroneous if tried by this rule. 

The effects produced by reasoning from this hypo- 
thesis have proved pernicious to the interests of civil 
government, and destructive to the authority and pre- 
eminence of the Bible. 

Men reason thus : If our ideas of the moral quality 
of actions are instructive ; if God has given us a 
faculty for the purpose of enabling us to decide imme- 
diately concerning the moral quality of actions ; if that 


faculty is instinctive and not dependent on any other 
faculty or agency of the human riiind ; its promptings 
must be of superior authority to any intellectual power 
possessed by man. If God has seen fit, in his infinite 
wisdom and goodness, to grant to man an instinctive 
faculty by which he can discern good and evil ; of 
course that faculty was not intended to deceive us, and 
it cannot cause us to err. Therefore any teaching which 
does not accord with the decisions of this instinctive 
principle must be incorrect. 

Upon certain subjects the laws of our country and 
the constitution upon which our government is estab- 
lished, contain principles, which the instinct of certain 
men tells them are wrong ; and, upon this shallow rea- 
son, they argue that the laws which now bind the 
states together in one grand and glorious union are 
wrong, and ought not to be obeyed. 

The Bible, too, teaches doctrines which the instinct 
of some men tells its possessors are wrong. They, 
therefore, conclude that the Bible is not a reliable autho- 
rity, unless it be so interpreted as to harmonize with 
their instinctive knowledge of ria;ht and wrong. 

Such are the fruits of the hypothesis, man's notion 
of the moral quality of actions is instinctive. By its 
fruits let it be judged. Of course a belief which pro- 
duces such unhappy results, a hypothesis from which 
a train of reasoning arises, which causes men to reject 


the Bible as being worthless, or, at the best, an inferior 
revelation of the will of (rod, should itself be rejected 
as being false and destructive to the present and future 
happiness of man. 

The word instinct signifies the sagacity and natural 
inclinations of brutes, which supplies the place of rea- 
son in mankind. 

To say that man's ideas of right and wrong are the 
result of instinct, would be degrading him at once to a 
level with the brutes. We may as well say that man, 
like the brutes, is an unaccountable being, or that 
brutes, like men, are accountable beings. For if our 
notions of the moral quality of actions are the effect 
of instinct, why maj T not the brutes, which possess 
instinct in its highest degree of perfection, have a more 
correct idea of right and wrong than we ? Since, if 
we are guided by instinct at all, it must be of the very 
lowest degree ; so slight, indeed, that I do not perceive 
its existence. 

But those who argue that man derives his notion of 
the moral quality of actions from instinct, also con- 
tend that the authority of this instinctive principle is 
superior to that of reason. If this be true, man's in- 
stinct must be superior to the instinct of the brute ; 
for all men agree in believing that man is a higher 
order of being than the brutes, and that his reason 
elevates him so high above them in the scale of created 


beings that the intervening space is immeasurable. 
If man's instinct is superior to his reason, of course 
his instinct must be superior to the instinct of the 
brutes ; but this we know is not true. Man has no 
instinct which guides him with that unerring certainty 
that we see exhibited in the actions of brutes. 

You may take a wild pig from his lair in the wilder- 
ness, blindfold him so that he can have no opportunity 
of observing the direction in which he is borne, carrv 
him thus, several miles ; then set him free, and as soon 
as he is sufficiently far from you to feel no fear of be- 
ing recaptured, he will bend his course to his accus- 
tomed haunts in the trackless wilderness. He will be 
sure to return to the vicinity of the lair from whence 
he was taken. 

Man possesses no gift of a nature similar to this ; he 
must have some basis upon which to found a reason 
for what he is about to do, or he wanders about like a 
ship at sea which has lost its rudder. 

Man is not like the fowls of the air, which build 
their nests as perfectly when they are preparing for 
their first brood as they ever do ; nor is he like the ani- 
mals, which build their first habitations as perfectly 
as it is possible for them to build, and never make 
any improvement in the arrangement thereof. 

Man first begins by making a rude hut, which pre- 
sents a disagreeable appearance to the eye and an 


insufficient protection against the fierce storm or the 
rough blasts of the wintry winds. 

"When the cold winds howl over his simple hut, and 
the piercing cold penetrates his shivering limbs, he 
begins to reason concerning some plan for ameliorating 
his condition and perfecting his habitation. He goes 
to work and builds a beautiful cottage, a splendid man- 
sion, or a towering edifice. 

The brutes, which are guided by instinct, neither 
improve nor grow less expert in obeying its promptings. 
But man is continually making mistakes, making im- 
provements, making new discoveries, and approaching 
nearer and still nearer to perfection, but never attain- 
ing to it. 

If our notion of the moral quality of actions 
depended upon instinct, barbarous and savage people 
would decide concerning the moral quality of actions 
precisely as the civilized do. Instead of this universal 
harmony in our ideas of right and wrong, we observe 
that men's notions differ precisely as their education 
differs. Barbarous and idolatrous nations decide very 
differently concerning what is right and what wrong, 
from the decisions of civilized and enlightened nations. 
The idolatrous decide that it is right to sacrifice human 
beings to the creatures which they worship as gods, 
and some think it right to eat the flesh of the victims 
thus sacrificed. The inhabitants of enlightened nations 


decide that nothing is more revolting to the feelings, 
nothing more absurd, and but few acts more wicked. 

This diversity of opinion is evidently owing to edu- 
cation. The idolatrous parent teaches his child that 
it is right to sacrifice human victims to the gods ; the 
child believes this is right ; he acts upon this convic- 
tion, which is the result of instruction received from 
his parents. His father sacrificed human victims to 
the gods, and taught him to do so; he obeys this 
parental teaching, and thus the custom of making such 
sacrifices is perpetuated until arrested by the labors 
of some philanthropic missionary, who teaches the 
savage a purer and holier doctrine. 

The idolater teaches his child to worship an immense 
and horrid structure formed of wood or stone, whose 
unsightly visage is distorted to agree with the per- 
verted notions of the misguided architect ; or to bend 
the knee in servile adoration of some beast, bird, or 
reptile. Of course the child believes that to do this 
is right. 

Would instinct teach him to act thus ? I think not. 
If our Heavenly Father had bestowed upon us, or 
placed within us, a faculty which teaches men to decide 
instinctively what is right, I do not think that it" 
would ever lead any man to the performance of such 
horrible practices. 

Our God could not make so great a mistake in the 


formation of man as to endow him with a certain 
instinctive principle for the sole purpose of enabling 
him to decide concerning the moral quality of actions, 
and that gift be so inefficient as to fail utterly in the 
accomplishment of the object for which it was designed. 

An account wbich is given in the memoirs of the 
French Academy of Sciences for the year 1703, of a 
deaf and dumb young man in the city of Chartres, 
serves to prove very conclusively that we do not derive 
our notion of the moral quality of actions from instinct. 

"At the age of three-and -twenty, it so happened, 
to the great surprise of the whole town, that he was 
suddenly restored to the sense of hearing, and in a 
short time he acquired the use of language. Being 
examined by some men of discernment, it was found 
that he had no idea of a God, of a soul, or of the 
moral merit or demerit of human actions." 

If our notion of the moral quality of actions has 
its origin in instinct, it seems that this young man 
would have had a perfectly correct idea of right and 
wrong ; for he was possessed of all the feelings and 
faculties of other human beings, except the lack of 
hearing and speaking. Indeed, it seems to me that 
' his notions of the moral quality of actions would have 
been correct in every minutia, being derived from 
instinct uninfluenced by any improper feeling. Instead 
of this, he had no idea at all of the moral quality of 


actions. It is evident, the reason lie did not know 
anything -of the moral merit or demerit of human 
actions, was because he had never been taught to 
distinguish between right and wrong, and to know 
why one act is right, and its reverse wrong. 

I will add another argument against the belief that 
our notion of the moral quality of actions is an in- 
stinctive impulse. The progenitors of the human 
species, Adam and Eve, were created without a know- 
ledge of good and evil. I suppose no one doubts that 
they were endowed with every faculty and impulse 
that human beings of the most complete organization 
possess. If our notion of the moral quality of actions 
is the result of an instinctive impulse, how does it 
happen that Adam and Eve could not distinguish 
between good and evil? No instinctive principle 
which they possessed discovered to their minds the 
moral quality of actions. They knew of but one 
wrong action that they could perform, and that act 
was the one which would cause a knowledge of good 
and evil to burst upon their vision. From this we 
learn that, to acquire a knowledge of right and wrong, 
something must be done. This knowledge will not 
spring up spontaneously in the human mind. 

Adam and Eve were forbidden to perform the act 
by which they acquired this knowledge ; but after the 
act was committed, we learn from the Sacred Scrip- 


fcures tliat in those days God frequently conversed 
with men, and taught them to distinguish .more cor- 
rectly the moral quality of human actions. He un- 
folded to them more thoroughly the knowledge of 
good and evil. At a later period he sent his holy 
prophets among men to teach them to distinguish cor- 
rectly between right and wrong ; to exhort them to 
perform that which is right and to avoid evil. 

At a still later period our Blessed Saviour came 
into the world, teaching men the way of life eternal. 
He also taught men to distinguish between right and 

Whence then arise the notions which exist in the 
minds of human beings of the moral quality of 
actions ? They are evidently the result of education. 
For the notion does not exist in human beings who have 
not been taught to distinguish between right and 
wrong. The deaf and dumb young man we have 
mentioned had no notion at all of the moral merit or 
demerit of human actions ; such a thought had never 
entered his mind. Nor had Adam and Eve any know- 
ledge of good and evil until they had acquired it ; it 
did not spring up spontaneously in their minds. 

The nature of the human mind is such that it is 
impossible for any notion or idea to exist in it, unless 
it is deduced from, or in some way connected with, 


something which really exists, and from which it 

Man conld not, just by beholding good and evil 
actions, decide that the one is right and the other 
wrong, if he has no rule by which to form his deci- 
sion. He would be as likely to decide that to kill a 
deer is wrong, and to kill a man right, as to decide in 
favor of the reverse of this ; and if the question were 
never asked, he would observe either action without 
ever thinking whether it was right or wrong. AVhat 
is there in the act of killing a deer that causes the 
idea to arise in the mind that to do so is right or that 
it is wrong? 

What is there in suicide that would cause the notion 
to arise in the mind that the act is wrong ? If we had 
never been taught what is right and what wrong, we 
would be more likely to think it right than wrong, 
if we had an}^ such ideas about it ; for the person 
whose mind is uncultivated with respect to the moral 
quality of actions, would, I think, if asked the ques- 
tion, decide that if a man wishes to kill himself, it is 
right for him to do so. Yet those who are correctly 
taught consider it a most unrighteous deed. 

I cannot perceive that there is anything in the deeds 
which men perform, that would suggest to them the 
notion of right and wrong. This notion must first 
exist, before we can decide that any action is either 



right or wrong ; but if the notion were suggested to 
the mind by the action, then the decision would be 
made first, and the notion of right and wrong would 
be the consequent instead of the antecedent. Thus ; 
if we were to learn that a man had committed suicide, 
if we had no notion of the moral quality of actions 
previously, and this action should suggest the notion 
to our minds, in reflecting upon this action we would 
either decide that the act was right or that it was 
wrong ; but how could we decide thus, if the notion 
of right and wrong did not exist in the mind ? It 
would be impossible. 

The notion of the moral quality of actions evidently 
is not an instinctive impulse, but it exists in the minds 
of men because they have been taught to consider 
certain actions right and other actions wrong. 

That our ideas of right and wrong are derived from 
education, may be observed in the opening and ex- 
panding of the mind in childhood. 

As soon as the infant is capable of receiving in- 
struction of any kind, it is taught that certain acts are 
right and certain other acts are wrong. This is prac- 
tised to some extent as soon as the child begins to 
utter the first syllables that it learns to speak. It is 
the first instruction that a child receives from its 
parents after it has learned to utter words, and is 
begun before it can speak a full sentence correctly. 


Parents not only teach their children whilst they are 
very young to distinguish between right and wrong, 
but they enforce the practice of what is right. It is 
true that some are negligent of such instruction during 
infancy, believing that the child is excusable because 
it cannot understand what is said to it ; but this is a 
mistake, and those parents who act upon this principle 
usually have a great deal of trouble in teaching their 
children to act in conformity with their own notions 
of rio-ht. 

As young persons are growing up and their reason- 
ing powers are not fully developed, and their judgment 
deficient, they necessarily refer frequently to their 
parents to learn what is right and what wrong on 
subjects with which they are not yet familiar ; but as 
they grow older, and their judgment becomes more 
mature, by reason of the instruction which they have 
received, they begin to decide for themselves concern- 
ing the moral quality of actions. Still their decisions 
are in strict harmony with the instruction which they 
have received. 

It is a daily practice with human beings to decide 
upon the moral quality of actions. It is not at all 
surprising, then, that man should decide with great 
readiness whether an act is right or wrong ; for to do 
so is a daily practice with them from childhood to old 
age. and continual practice gives us skill in everything 


we do. In morals, by it we become enabled to do 
what is right and to shun evil the more readily, the 
oftener we resist temptation; and the oftener we are 
called upon to decide between good and evil, the more 
easily we can form a correct decision ; because we 
become more familiar with the rules by which we 
must decide. If our decisions concerning questions 
in morals were made in obedience to an instinctive 
principle, we would not become more expert in making 
our decisions, neither would an acquaintance with 
rules founded on moral principles, enable us to decide 
more correctly. We would have no need of being 
taught what is right and what wrong, nor would it 
be necessary for us to study the sacred Scriptures ; 
we could tell exactly what is right and what wrong 
without the trouble of studying about it. 

That which is done instinctively, is done without 
reasoning, without deliberation, and without instruc- 
tion or experience. No one can say truly that our 
decisions concerning the moral quality of our actions 
are made after this manner. There are some subjects 
concerning which we decide at once, and apparently 
without reflection ; but in all cases with which we are 
not familiar, we weigh the circumstances both in favor 
of and against the action, and endeavor to learn whe- 
ther the action performed is according to the will of 
God; if we find that it is, we decide that it is right; 


if not, that it is wrong. Frequently we find it very 
difficult to decide at all. This could not be the case 
if our decisions were instinctive ; we would then decide 
upon all questions of morals immediately and without 

"We decide at once and seemingly without reflection 
only concerning those actions with which we are well 
acquainted, or in cases similar to those with which we 
are familiar, and to which we can readily refer the one 
in question. 

We have long ago decided that gratitude is right. 
We have taken the proper care to inform ourselves, 
and we are fully satisfied that it is God's will that we 
shall be grateful for the favors which we receive. If 
I am informed of an act of gratitude which an indivi- 
dual has performed, and asked whether the action was 
right or wrong, of course I could decide at once and 
without reflection, because I know that it is God's will 
for us to be grateful. I might not be able at once to 
tell the reason why I believe it is according to God's 
will for us to be grateful ; but this would be no evi- 
dence that my decision was instinctive, for I would be 
very likely to forget the various steps which led me to 
decide that gratitude is right, although the decision 
remained permanent in my mind. In like manner, we 
all know that honesty, justice, virtue, and piety are 
right. If we hear of an action which is honest, just, 


virtuous, or pious, we can decide immediately and with- 
out reflection that it is right ; for we have long since 
decided that all such acts are right. 

It is on this principle that we are able to decide at 
once concerning the moral quality of many of the acts 
which men perform. We refer the act to a certain 
class ; if it belongs to a class of actions which we re- 
cognise as being right, we decide that it also is right. 
If it belongs to a class of actions which are wrong, we 
at once pronounce it wrong. If we cannot readily 
refer it to some class of actions, the nature of which 
we are familiar with, we cannot decide immediately ; 
we have to study the case, and see what the Scriptural 
teaching is concerning it. Being unable at once to give 
a satisfactory reason for our decision, is no evidence 
that the decision is instinctive. Besides the reason 
already given, it is a well known principle of the 
human mind that it frequently passes over a long train 
of reasoning with so great rapidity that it takes no 
cognisance of the train of thought, but only marks the 
conclusion to which it has arrived. Some men are 
peculiarly distinguished for this faculty of rapid 
thought, and hasty though correct conclusions. 

The Emperor Napoleon is said to have decided cor- 
rectly and almost instantaneously upon most subjects 
which attracted his attention. Because a man can 
think rapidly and reason correctly, is no evidence that 


he is governed by*instinct. If his mind discovers the 
truth much quicker than our own, and his judgment is 
more correct, this by no means proves that he is 
governed less by reason than we are. It only evinces 
the sprightliness and superiority of his intellect. But 
no matter how rapidly we are accustomed to think, 
and how correct our judgment usually is, still we will 
meet with some questions of an intricate and perplex- 
ing nature upon which we cannot readily decide, and 
concerning which, after weighing them maturely, we 
are still in doubt. 

Our notion of the moral quality of actions is not 
derived from any instinctive impulse, it does not natu- 
rally arise from reflecting on actions which we see per- 
formed ; but it is purely the effect of education ; and 
man would not to this day have known whether an act 
was right or wrong, if he had never eaten the fruit 
" of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." He 
would have had no need of the knowledge of right 
and wrong ; it could not have existed in his mind with- 
out his having a knowledge of good and evil. 




If a man wishes to become acquainted with any of 
the trades or professions which engage the industrial 
classes of mankind, he must, for several years, be 
busily employed in passing through a course of 
instruction, an ordeal of errors and correction, before 
he is at all qualified to perforin the duties of his trade 
or profession, as the case may be, without further aid 
from his instructors. And even when he has become 
a proficient in the art or science which he intends to 
pursue through life, he may still continue to become 
more skilful, and more thoroughly acquainted with 
his profession or pursuit. 

Perfection is an attribute of God, and evidently 
beyond the reach of man, in every condition and 
every occasion in life. 

How can a man be otherwise than a creature apt to 
err, so long as the immortal soul resides in the midst 
of corruptible flesh ? Even the eyes, which may be 
called the windows through which the soul looks out 
upon the broad expanse of the universe, and surveys, 
with awe and admiration, the beauty, grandeur, and 
sublimity of the works of its own omniscient Creator, 


are frequently the medium of deception to the mind. 
Optical illusions often occur, and when we see clearly 
the object which we are beholding, it is frequently 
an ingenious contrivance of men, which leads us to 
form erroneous conclusions. 

The same is equally true of all the senses ; through 
the medium of which we gain our earliest, most last- 
ing, and most correct ideas of the world around us. 

The sense of touch frequently conveys an incorrect 
idea to the mind. 

A person may, on a winter's evening, before retiring 
to rest, prepare to bathe his feet ; he believes the water 
prepared, to be warm, he plunges his feet into it, the 
sensation of heat is so great that with an exclamation 
of surprise, he quickly withdraws his feet, fearing 
that they will be scalded ; he pauses a moment, then 
cautiously puts the tip of his finger into the water to 
try the temperature again, he even ventures to lay 
his palm upon its scalding surface, and lo ! it is uncom- 
fortably cold. Such instances of the fallibility of the 
information which man receives through the medium 
of his senses, are too numerous and too familiar to 
need repetition. 

Every sentient individual can easily recall similar 
proofs of fallibility, and every intelligent person can 
adduce testimony which Avill bear witness to this truth : 
viz. : The judgment of man is as liable to lead him 


to a conclusion which is erroneous, as his faculties are 
to exercise a deceptive influence. 

If sensation, the medium through which we gain 
the foundation of our knowledge, is liable to convey 
erroneous ideas to the mind, if our judgment is liable 
to be incorrect, if, as is also true, after we have con- 
centrated all the intellectual faculties on a certain 
subject, and have collected the opinions and argu- 
ments of learned men of every nation concerning it, 
we may still entertain an erroneous opinion ; I ask, 
is it not reasonable to suppose, may we not confidently 
assert, that man has no gift or faculty which is an 
unerring guide to truth ? That there is not, and from 
the nature of the constitutional formation of the 
creature, there cannot be, any innate power, gift, or 
faculty of the mind or soul, which will always tell a 
man what is right and what wrong? 

But some moral philosophers contend that the 
conscience is an independent faculty of the mind, a 
moral sense by which we are enabled to decide I 
immediately concerning the moral quality of actions. 
They believe that the conscience is an instinctive 
faculty, which causes us to decide correctly concerning 
the moral quality of actions, and since it is instinctive, 
that it enables us to decide immediately, without 
reasoning, and without reflection. 

We have already fully shown that man is not 


governed by any instinctive impulse in his decisions 
concerning the moral quality of actions ; we have dis- 
cussed the claims which instinct has to our considera- 
tion, in speaking of the origin of our notions of the 
moral quality of actions. We also alluded to what we 
believe to be the foundation of the opinion ; or the 
cause which induced some to adopt it. 

They who contend that conscience is an instinctive 
impulse, observe that we approve examples of gener- 
osity, gratitude, fidelity, and the like, and condemn the 
contrary instantly, without deliberation, without hav- 
ing any interest of our own concerned in them, often- 
times without being conscious of the reason of our ap- 
probation, or able to give any reason for it. They also 
allege that this approbation is uniform and universal, 
the same kind of conduct being approved or disap- 
proved in all ages and countries of the world. 

This latter assertion does not seem to form a part of 
their ground of belief, but appears to be a mistake 
which they were led to give credence to, in order that 
they might be able to reconcile their own judgments 
to assent to the belief which they defended. 

It is evident to the mind of every one, if conscience 
is an instinctive faculty with which all men are gifted 
to enable them to decide at once and without reflection, 
what is right and what wrong with regard to the 
actions which men may perform, that it must be uni- 


form and universal in its approbation of certain acts. 
Hence those who defend the opinion that the con- 
science is an instinctive faculty, must also contend that 
it is uniform and universal in what it approves and dis- 
approves. Their contending for this seems to be a 
matter of necessity with them, and not at all optional. 
For from authentic accounts of historians and travel- 
lers, we learn that there is scarcely a single vice which, 
in some age or country of the world, has not been 
countenanced by public opinion. 

In one country it is esteemed an office of piety in 
children to sustain their aged parents ; in another, to 
despatch them as soon as they begin to become so 
helpless as to need filial aid. Suicide has been hero- 
ism in one age of the world ; in another, felony. 
Theft, which by the laws of most countries is pun- 
ished, was by the laws of Sparta frequently rewarded. 
The inhabitants of enlightened nations are delighted 
with the appearance of happiness, tranquillity, and 
comfort, and are shocked at beholding the torture or 
needless suffering of any living creature ; but savages 
are delighted with the writhings and contortions of a 
victim at the stake. 

So that, to believe the conscience is uniform in its 
approval or disapproval of every action which we may 
perform, we are obliged to believe what is directly 


contrary to the experience of man in every age of the 

I suppose those who contend that it is an instinctive 
faculty make a virtue of necessity, and believe the 
conscience is uniform in its approbation of certain 
actions, because they must believe this or reject the idea 
that it is instinctive. 

I do not think they would contend for the uniform- 
ity of its decisions if their minds were not confused 
and bewildered by the fact that men approve examples 
of generosity, gratitude, fidelity, and the like, and con- 
demn the contrary instantly ; apparently without deli- 
beration, and frequently without being conscious of 
possessing a reason, or able to tell the cause of their 

This seems to be the basis of their belief. They do 
not discover the true cause of our deciding at once and 
apparently without reflection concerning the moral 
quality of certain actions ; and without taking time to 
sift the matter, they conclude that conscience must be 
instinctive, or we would not approve of certain actions 
without taking time for reflection, and without even 
being able to give any reason for our approbation. 

The truth appears to be this : We approve of acts 

of generosity, fidelity, &c, because we are taught from 

infancy to believe that such acts are right ; of course 

we do not take time to consider whether they are right 



or wrong before we give our approval to them, because 
our mind is made up concerning such actions. We 
have been taught from childhood to believe that they 
are right. All that we need know, then, is whether 
the act may be termed generous or faithful ; having 
learned that it may, we decide immediately that it is 
right. There is no need at all of reflection. 

It may be asked, if this is truly the reason that we 
approve immediately certain actions, and as readily 
condemn others, why is it that we cannot always give 
a reason at once for our approbation or disapprobation ? 
The cause of our inability to do so is quite evident. 
It often happens that we study a subject maturely, 
weigh every argument for and against, and finally give 
our judgment. In after years the question is brought 
up again ; we are asked our opinion, we can give it 
without a moment's reflection ; but when we are asked 
the reason that we entertain such opinion, we find it 
impossible to recall without some reflection the argu- 
ments on which our opinion was founded. It may be 
that some of the arguments have escaped from the 
memory never to be recalled again ; still our judgment 
is the same that it would be could we recall every 

Some who cannot deny that the decisions of con- 
science are not universal in fact, who have too much 
regard for their reputation as learned men to deny the 


plainest and most familiar facts, such as that some 
nations consider infanticide and parricide right, whilst 
others consider such acts most abominably wicked, 
whilst they admit candidly that the consciences of men 
who are taught differently decide differently concern- 
ing the same act, endeavor to prove that there is no 
difference in the decisions of the consciences of men 
concerning the same question if we judge of the deci- 
sion by the intention. 

Of course two persons might do acts which were 
directly opposed to each other, and yet both intend to 
do right. This affords more evidence, however, that 
different men's consciences decide differently on the 
same subject than that they decide alike. If both 
men intend to do rig-lit, and their consciences decide 
alike, they will both do the same kind of action. 

My conscience tells me that it would be an awfully 
wicked act to make a sacrifice of my child to Almighty 
God, and still more wicked to make a sacrificial offer- 
ing of it to an idol. An idolater's conscience tells 
him that it is right to sacrifice his child to the god he 
worships. I intend what is right, and my conscience 
decides that I must not sacrifice my child ; the idolater 
intends what is right, and his conscience tells him that 
he must sacrifice his child. The question now is, does 
my conscience and the conscience of the heathen agree 
or differ in their decision on this subject ? Any one 


whom much learning hath not made mad ; would say 
they differ. 

We are told that, "in these very cases, in which 
wrong actions are practised, they are justified on the 
ground of a good intention, or some view of the rela- 
tion between the parties, which, if true, would render 
them innocent. Thus, if infanticide be justified, it is 
on the ground that this world is a place of misery, and 
that the infant is better off not to encounter its 

In the above paragraph, which is a quotation from 
"Dr. Wayland's Moral Science,'' we are told that 
wrong actions are justified by a good intention. He 
says, if infanticide be justified, it is on the ground that 
this world is a place of misery ; meaning the same as 
to tell us that if infanticide be justified, it is on the 
ground of good intention. Why does he say if infanti- 
cide be justified, it is on the ground of good intention ? 
Why could he not justify it himself on that ground ? 
Does he not know that it is right, if the parents have a 
o-ood ixtextion" in murdering their children ? 

If intention qualifies the act in every case, of course 
it is right for parents to murder their children if their 
object in so doing is to hurry them out of this world 
where they think they will be unhappy, and send them 
to another where their souls will be eternally happy. 
This is the conclusion at which we are bound to arrive, 


if we adhere strictly to the Doctor's rules about inten- 
tion. The Doctor must have doubted his own rules 
when he found they were leading to the decision, the 
more children we destroy, or the more old men we kill, 
the more good we accomplish. 

Conscience is a name given to our judgment when in 
the exercise of determining what is right and what 
wrong in regard to our own acts, and is not more in- 
stinctive or intuitive than is our judgment about any 
other subject. 

A man's conscience is no more likely to decide right 
concerning his own acts when he has not been taught 
correctly concerning the fundamental principles of 
morality, than his judgment is to be correct concerning 
any principle of a science which he has not thoroughly 
learned ; and in judging of acts, the nature of which 
he has never been taught, his conscience would be as 
apt to decide wrong, as he would be to decide wrong 
concerning the principles of a science which he had 
never studied. 

If a man wishes to have a correct judgment as a 
physician, he must learn the rules and principles by 
which a physician is governed in forming his opinion 
of a case. If he wishes to be a judge of common law, 
he must learn the law and understand the principles 
on which his judgment is to be based. It is just so 
with regard to the decisions of conscience. If he does 
6* E 


not understand the principles of moral law, if he does 
not know the rules by which he is to be governed in 
his judgment on cases of conscience, he is likely to 
decide incorrectly. This is evident from the fact that 
different men's consciences decide differently about the 
same act. Whilst one man's conscience tells him that 
a certain act is right, another's conscience says that the 
opposite of this is right. 

By studying the principles of moral law, we become 
acquainted with our obligations, and there are estab- 
lished in our minds rules of duty, in accordance with 
which rules we judge of our own acts, and accuse or 
else excuse ourselves. How could we decide concern- 
ing the moral quality of our actions, if we had no rule 
to guide us in our decisions? And how can we have 
the rules necessary for enabling us to decide correctly, 
if we do not learn the principles of moral law ? 

The rules of duty which are established in our 
minds by the moral training which we have received, 
form in our minds a standard to which we can apply 
any action which we may perform, and judge whether, 
in accordance with those rules, the action is right or 
wrong. This judgment is called the dictate of con- 
science ; and is performed in a manner precisely 
similar to our judgment on any other subject. 

In deciding on any question of right or wrong, a 
train of mental action arises in the mind, by which 


the ideas already in the mind are compared with the 
facts of the case, observing whether these facts corres- 
pond with our ideas of right, or conform to what we 
consider wrong; accordingly, our decision is made. 
This decision is called judgment. A similar decision 
with regard to our own acts is called conscience. 

Each man's conscience must decide concerning his 
own acts, according to the standard which he has in 
his own mind. A difference in education, a difference 
in mental ability, and the influence of prejudice and 
of the feelings, must necessarily make a difference in 
the decisions which men will make concerning the 
same subject. Some men are inclined to judge of 
their own acts with great lenity, whilst others will 
scrutinize themselves closely, and judge their own 
acts rigorously. This also will cause a difference in 
the decisions of the consciences of different men. 

"When a man's conscience condemns the act which 
he has performed, he feels guilty, he is abased, and 
feels that he is already severely punished for the 
wicked action. 

It may be asked by some who have felt severely 
the pangs which conscience inflicts for their guilty 
deeds, if this is not sufficient punishment? It may 
possibly prove sufficient, if it produces sufficient 
repentance to cause them to cease to do evil, and learn 
to do well. But if they cease not to perform acts 


which their consciences condemn, the pain inflicted 
by offended conscience will grow more and more 
feeble as their acts of wickedness become more 
frequent ; so that the more wicked a man becomes, 
the less pain he feels from an offended conscience. 
It is evident that the more wicked a man is, the more 
punishment he deserves ; but his conscience does not 
punish him more severely as he sinks deeper into 
crime. Men sometimes become so wicked, and so 
utterly insensible to every moral sentiment, that they 
are said to be devoid of conscience. For such men 
there must be, as the Bible teaches us, a more excru- 
ciating torment reserved than any that it is in the 
power of conscience to inflict. 

He who is condemned by his own conscience is, in- 
deed, guilty. The decisions of conscience are made 
in accordance with the best rules of morality with 
which the individual is acquainted. 

If, when judging of acts which he wishes to perform, 
his conscience decides that they are wrong, he may be 
sure that it would be wrong for him to do them. He 
would not even have the satisfaction of a good inten- 
tion. Every one believes those actions to be wrong 
which his conscience decides are so, until he is con- 
vinced to the contrary. 

If a man performs an act which his conscience 
decides is wrong, his intention cannot be to do right, 


for be is doing what lie believes in his heart to be 
wrong. He who acts against his conscience is always 
guilty of wrong. The question may be asked, does a 
man always act right when he acts according to his 
conscience ? Is he free from blame whenever his con- 
science acquits him ? We cannot answer these ques- 
tions in the affirmative. We know of too many in- 
stances of men acting strictly in accordance with their 
consciences, whilst they were performing very cruel 
and wicked deeds. 

The Spaniards, no doubt, acted conscientiously 
when they bore the holy cross before them in their 
invasion of Mexico, and supposed that they were 
doing the will of God when they were robbing the 
poor Mexicans of everything they held dear, of every- 
thing they valued. No doubt the consciences of those 
Spaniards gave them much comfort, and decided that 
they were doing a truly virtuous act to force a more 
correct knowledge of religion on these people, who, 
though possessed of some knowledge of the worship 
of their Creator, were wholly ignorant of Christianity, 
and sacriflcers of human victims upon their altars. No 
doubt they also were acting according to their con- 
sciences when they caused their altars to reek with the 
blood of human victims. We cannot say that men 
who act conscientiously in performing such cruel 
deeds are doing right. 


It is the duty of man constantly to prosecute his 
moral culture, and to be continually raising his 
standard of morality higher. It is his duty to culti- 
vate his conscience by continually acquiring a more 
correct knowledge of the principles of the moral law. 
If he has but a low standard of right and wrong in 
his mind, he may be greatly blameable for not making 
proper exertions to increase his knowledge of moral 
law, and enable himself to judge more correctly. 

The nearer an individual's standard of right ap- 
proaches to the great standard of moral law, the Bible, 
the more correctly he will be able to decide concerning 
the moral quality of actions. 

Since we have a standard of moral rules by which 
we may correct whatever is faulty about the rules 
which we already acknowledge in our own minds as 
being right, it is not only in our power to improve our 
consciences, but it is our duty to do so. This could 
not be done if conscience were an instinctive faculty ; 
for it is a law of instinct that the animals which are 
directed by it never improve nor grow less expert in 
following its promptings. 

If the conscience were an instinctive faculty which 
always directed us aright, we would certainly always 
be doing right when we acted agreeably to our con- 
sciences. But man's conscience is not, like instinct, 
incapable of improvement ; we can continue to en- 

C N S C I E N C E. 7 1 

lighten our consciences and raise our standard of 
morality still higher, as long as we possess intellectual 
powers. " Conscience is never fully formed, but always 
in the course of formation." 

If a man's conscience is not sufficiently enlightened 
always to determine precisely what is the will of God 
concerning any action, it cannot be referred to as an 
ultimate and supreme authority. That a man acts 
according to his conscience, is not a reason for his 
actions which can supersede the necessity of assigning 
other reasons. He may have a very imperfect con- 
science, and, if acting in accordance with his conscience 
were all the reason required to justify his actions, it 
would not matter whether his actions were right or 
wrong, provided it were justified by his own conscience. 

That an act is according to the will of God is the 
true ground of action, and each man's conscience is 
to be the judge of his own actions, to determine 
whether they are in obedience to the will of God or 
not ; consequently, we must be acquainted with God's 
will before our consciences are prepared to decide 
correctly, and when our consciences differ on the same 
subject, one of us must be wrong ; the will of God, as 
he has revealed it in the Holy Bible, must decide 
between us. To this we can, at all times, safely refer 
as an ultimate authority. 

If the conscience is an instinctive faculty, and of 


ultimate authority, we can render no better re sou 
for any act which we would perform, than that con- 
science tells us it is right. Those who believe in the 
supreme authority of conscience as an instinctive 
principle, do sometimes offer as a reason for their 
opinion, the conviction of their own consciences, and 
seem to think that because their consciences tell them 
a thing is so, it must infallibly be correct. They seem 
to forget that those holding an opinion directly 
opposed to that for which they are contending, also 
have consciences. 

. We will take the following as an example of this 
kind of reasoning. An individual has made a promise 
to do an act which is immoral. Before the act is 
performed, he reflects upon his promise and the 
immorality of the act, and regrets that he has promised, 
but nevertheless determines that he will perform the 
act because he has promised, and his conscience tells 
him that he ought not to violate his promise, although 
to fulfil it, he must perform an immoral act; my 
conscience would decide that he ought to refuse to 
perform an immoral act, even if he had promised. 
A promise cannot justify an immoral act. If he 
should say he is sure that he is right, because his 
conscience decides that he is, I could, with the same 
propriety, say that he is mistaken, because my con- 
science tells me that the act would not be justifiable. 

C O X 8 1 E N C E. 73 

Suppose those who believe that slavery is a moral 
evil, should urge in confirmation of their opinion, 
that it must be a moral evil, because their consciences 
tell them it is morally wrong. I assert that my con- 
science tells me that slavery is right, therefore it must 
be right, for the dictates of conscience cannot be 
erroneous. It is evident that conscience cannot be 
called in to prove an argument, for if we do so, we 
may frequently have the dictates of conscience opposed 
to the dictates of conscience. 

To urge in favor of any doubtful or contested 
opinion that it must be correct, because it is agreeable 
to the dictates of my conscience, is no reason at all 
in its favor ; to use such expression in the form of an 
argument is not admissible. The use of it in this 
way is a very good evidence against an opinion which 
one endeavors to defend, for he would not resort to 
an argument which can be used with as much force 
against his opinion as for it, if he were not at a loss 
for a reason. 

Conscience cannot be used as an argument to prove 
any position. To say, my conscience tells me that a 
certain belief which I entertain is right, is no proof 
at all that it is so, for another's conscience may tell 
him that it is not. In this way we would never arrive 
at the truth, but could prove just anything that we 
believe. So that to say, my conscience tells me a 


certain action is right, is no stronger proof that it is, 
than to say I believe it is right. 

Because a man believes a thing is true, is very little 
evidence that it is, for he can believe what is false 
just as firmly as if it were true. This seems to be so 
evident that it needs no proof; and I should not offer 
a single example to prove that we can believe that 
which is false, as firmly as if it were true, if it were | 
not said by some of the principal defenders of the 
opinion that conscience is instinctive, we cannot 
believe what is false. If all that we believe is true, 
truth is the easiest thing imaginable to discover, and 
it no longer " lies at the bottom of a well." 

Dr. Francis Wayland has expressed the following 
opinion : " Now, as our Creator has constituted us such 
as we are, and as, by our very constitution, we do thus 
consider conscience to be the most authoritative im- 
pulse of our nature, it must be the most authoritative, 
unless we believe that He has deceived us, or, which is 
the same thing, that He has so formed us as to give 
credit to a lie." 

Every one who chooses to do so, can give a great 
number of examples which show conclusively that we 
can give credit to a lie. I do not see that there is any-! 
thing wrong, either, in our being so constituted as to 
believe a lie. We would not be human if we could 
not believe that which is false. Hear, in the beautiful 


language of Milton, how the human mincl can give 
credit to a lie. The serpent exclaims to Eve, 

"Queen of this universe! do not believe 
Those rigid threats of death ; ye shall not die ; 
How should ye ? by the fruit ? it gives you life 
To knowledge: by the threatener? look on me, 
Me who have touched and tasted ; yet both live, 
And life more perfect have attained than fate 
Meant me, by venturing higher than my lot." 

Trusting the words of the serpent, and believing 
that which was false to be without guile, she ate of the 
forbidden fruit, and still, not aware that she had given 
credit to a lie, she hastened to Adam, bearing in her now 
polluted hand some of the fatal fruit, and, accosting 
him, said, 

" This tree is not, as we are told, a tree 
Of danger tasted, nor to evil unknown 
Opening the way ; but of divine effect 
To open eyes, and make them gods who taste." 

Eve believed the words of the serpent, she ate of the 
forbidden fruit, she died. 

That man is so constituted as to believe what is false 
as readily as that which is true, is too evident to need 
much proof. His credulity is so often a source of dis- 
appointment, that it is frequently difficult for him to 
believe that which is really true; he often believes 
what is false, and rejects the truth. 


In the days of Noah, he alone, of all the inhabitants 
of the earth, believed that it would be submerged 
beneath the waters of the flood. He believed the 
truth, the rest of mankind gave credit to an untrue 
belief. He was saved, the rest were lost. 

In the Sacred Scriptures, the conscience is spoken 
of as being either good or evil. 1 Tim. i. 5, "Now 
the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure 
heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." 
Acts xxiv. 16, "And herein I exercise myself to have 
always a conscience void of offence toward Grod and 
toward man." Heb. x. 22, " Let us draw near with a 
true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts 
sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed 
with pure water." 

Since the conscience may be either good or evil, it 
does not seem that it can be an instinctive principle 
which Grod has bestowed on man to enable him to 
decide at once concerning the moral quality of actions; 
for if it were such a principle bestowed upon us by 
our Creator for our good, it could be only good, it 
could not be evil. 

We have already given a definition of conscience, it 
remains now for us to determine what is a good con- 
science and what an evil one. 

A good conscience is void of offence toward God 
and man. Since our consciences are such as our 


education makes them, differing according to the dif- 
ferent kinds of instruction which we have received, 
when we arrive at mature years and begin to excuse 
or accuse ourselves for the actions we perform, we 
all find that we are very incompetent judges of right 
and wrong ; it becomes our duty at once to endeavor 
to gain such information as will enable us to decide 
correctly concerning the moral quality of our actions ; 
we must improve our consciences ; we must eradicate 
the incorrect impressions which have been made 
upon our minds by false instruction, and supply the 
deficiency with correct information. 

We must search the Scriptures, and form our con- 
sciences according to the model which our Saviour 
and his apostles have given us. 

We must endeavor to have a conscience void 
of offence toward God and man ; but we must not 
always be satisfied with a good answer of conscience, 
for the conscience may be evil. In which case it 
would excuse us when we perform evil actions. We 
should endeavor to act in such a manner as to enjoy 
the approbation of a good conscience. We should 
endeavor to become thoroughly acquainted with our 
obligations to God and man. and daily perform those 
obligations with unfailing fidelity. 

He who is aware of all the obligations which he 
owes to God and man. and invariably performs every 


duty which lie owes to his Creator and to his fellow- 
man, can fully enjoy the Gomforting answer of a gao 1 
conscience. But how few of us can with the Apostle 
Paul exclaim : " And herein do I exercise myself, to 
have always a conscience void of offence toward God, 
and toward man" ? 

When we neglect or refuse to perform those actions 
which our judgment has decided to be right, we soon 
cease to exercise the judgment at all, in deciding 
whether it is right or wrong to perform certain 
actions. We care not about that, but exercise our 
judgment upon a question which is entirely different. 
The object of our inquiry then is, whether the action 
which we wish to perform is expedient or not. "We 
seek to discern, whether it will be profitable or not ; 
and if the action which we would perforin is punish- 
able by the law of the land, we know it is wrong to 
do it, yet we care not for that, the object of our soli- 
citude is whether we are liable to detection. If these 
questions are answered by our judgment in a satis- 
factory manner, we perform the act without asking 
or caring whether it be right or wrong. 

Such is the course of action to which an evil con- 
science would lead us. An evil conscience does not 
accuse us when we do wrong, but rather excuses us 
if we can do so without being detected. 

How different is our course if we resolve- to im- 

V I K T U E. 79 

prove our conscience ; to endeavor to lead a life void 
of offence toward God and toward man ! We strive 
daily to become more thoroughly acquainted with 
the will of God ; we seek to know all the obligations 
which we owe to God, and to each other ; we try to 
learn our duty, and to perform it with unflinching 
determination. In the performance of such acts we 
feel that we are leading a life void of offence toward 
God and man, and we enjoy the comforting answer 
of a good conscience. 





VIRTUE consists in a performance of the duties 
which we owe to God, to mankind, and to ourselves. 

Piety, reverence, resignation, and gratitude are a 
portion of the duties which we owe to God. Of these 
piety is the chief duty ; since without it the others are 
of little worth, and could scarcely be practised. 

Piety includes both veneration and love to God. 
The pious man fulfils the greatest commandment that 
was given to man. Without piety we could not obey 
that greatest of commandments, " Thou shalt love the 


Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, 
with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." With- 
out piety we could not perform other duties which we 
owe to God. It is the basis, the chief corner-stone of 
moral character. Without it, we are not apt to per- 
form any duty which is virtuous, unless we do so for 
the purpose of gaining the approbation of men, that 
they may confer some favor on us, which we could not 
hope to receive unless they thought we were worthy 
recipients of the favors which they have a right to 

Reverence very naturally follows piety ; for he who 
loves God, cannot restrain emotions of admiration 
mingled with fear when he beholds the beauty, magni- 
ficence, and sublimity of the mighty works of His 
hand. He cannot fail to admire a Being whose good- 
ness and abundant knowledge are rendered so evident 
by even the most minute portions of his creation. 
He cannot fail to fear that power which is so great, so 
omnipotent as to produce all the wonderful works of 

Resignation also depends on piety. When afflic- 
tions, sorrow, and disease are pressing heavily upon 
us ; when adversity is bowing the spirits, and the un- 
happy emotions arising from disappointment are swell- 
ing within the breast, it is hard to say, Lord, Thy will 


be done. Without piety our resignation would fail 
under such circumstances. 

Gratitude to God is an emotion of the heart consist- 
ing in a feeling of thankfulness for the many blessings 
which are daily conferred upon us by our beneficent 
Creator. It implies a feeling heart and a proper sense 
of duty in him whose mind is affected by the emotions 
which it produces. It swells the heart with a desire 
to praise God, and is beautifully exhibited in the fer- 
vent, thankful prayer. 

The duties which we owe to mankind are virtues of 
an qnnobling character. The principal of these are 
justice, charity, and fidelity. The greatest is charity. 
This virtue is most beautifully eulogized by the apostle 
Paul, 1 Cor. chap. xiii. He begins thus : "Though I 
speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have 
not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tink- 
ling cymbal." 

The duties which we owe to ourselves are of a pru- 
dential nature, such as sobriety, temperance, care of 
health, and preservation of life. 

Virtue consists not in the performance of any one 
of the duties above mentioned, though each one of 
these duties may, in itself considered, be called a 
virtue. But strictly speaking, virtue includes all the 
duties which we are under obligation to discharge. 

If wc perform the duties which we owe to ourselves, 


neglecting those which we owe to God and mankind ; 
or if we perform those which we owe to ourselves and 
to mankind, without discharging those we owe to God, 
we are not virtuous. 

If an individual should perform, with scrupulous 
exactness, the duties which he owes to himself and to 
mankind, being regardless of his obligations to God, 
he could not claim the reward of virtue. Yet he 
would, no doubt, receive the reward of such a degree 
of virtue as he possessed. If he endeavored to please 
men rather than God, he might be faithful, just, and 
charitable, and by these means he might gain the 
esteem and approbation of his fellow-men. But if 
he has no piety, and does not seek to please God, he 
cannot expect a reward from his Creator for such 

Every man is rewarded in proportion to the amount 
of virtue he possesses. If he only possesses so much 
virtue as will induce him to perform the obligations 
which he owes to mankind, he will enjoy the confi- 
dence and approbation of those who know him. If 
he performs the obligations which he owes to himself, 
he will enjoy good health, a competence of worldly 
goods, and length of days. But if he is truly virtu- 
ous, if he performs all the obligations which he owes 
to himself, to mankind, and to his Creator, he may 
confidently expect to enjoy the full reward of virtue. 


The performance of the duties which we owe to man- 
kind, will be rewarded by the esteem of our fellow- 
man. But if we would enjoy the approbation of our 
Creator, we must perform not those duties only, which 
we owe especially to God, as a being superior to, and 
distinct from all other beings, but those also which 
we owe to mankind and to ourselves. 

The question may arise : How do we become ac- 
quainted with the existence and nature of those duties 
which virtue requires us to perform? And whence 
arises the obligation resting on us to perform those 
duties ? In answer to these questions, we are told 
that, " By an exertion of our intellectual faculties, we 
become acquainted with the existence and attributes 
of God," and in this way we become acquainted with 
our duties and obligations. A better answer seems 
to me to be, that God's will is revealed to us, and by 
becoming acquainted with it, we learn what our duties 
are, and the obligation resting on us to live virtuously. 

I do not think it true that man could, simply by an 
effort of the intellect, unaided by revelation, have 
become acquainted with the existence and attributes 
of God. If it were so, it would argue that God had 
performed a work of supererogation by revealing 
himself and his attributes to mankind through the 
Sacred Scriptures. In no case can it be shown that 
our Creator has left undone, that which ought to have 


been done, or has done more than was necessary to 
accomplish His designs. 

It is through the medium of revelation we learn 
that there is a God, the Creator of all things. Through 
the same medium, we gain a knowledge of His power, 
His wisdom, and His goodness. By means of our 
intellects, we are enabled to discern innumerable proofs 
of the existence of those attributes which are peculiar 
to God : and by the same means, when we behold the 
wonderful works of His hands ; when at night we cast 
our wondering gaze upon the sparkling dome above, 
brilliant with shining stars ; when we look upon the 
broad ocean, and behold the waters separated from 
the land ; or when we view the busy scenes of life in 
which all animated nature is performing its allotted 
work, the mind rapidly runs back to the Great First 
Cause, and we exclaim, Man can reason from effect to 
cause. This is very true ; to a certain extent he can ; 
but he can do this only when he is acquainted with 
certain causes which can produce the effect he beholds. 
For example, he is acquainted with the existence of 
man, and his ability to build structures similar to the 
pyramids of Egypt ; hence he concludes that they are 
the work of men. But he is astonished at their 
wonderful durability, having stood, almost perfect in 
every respect, as when first erected, during the lapse 
of ages; and he is at a loss to conjecture what means 


#ere employed to construct those wonderful monu- 
ments of a bygone age. 

"We can form, at least, a satisfactory conclusion as 
to what cause has produced a certain effect, if we are 
familiar with things that can produce the effect under 
consideration. But it is utterly impossible for us to 
form any reasonable conjecture concerning the cause 
which has produced the effect we behold, if we never 
have seen or heard of any being possessed of power suf- 
ficient to perform such a work. How then could man, 
without the aid of revelation, have learned that there 
is a God, the Creator of all things ? He could behold 
this wonderful work, the earth, and the wonderfully 
constructed creatures that inhabit it; but what being 
is he acquainted with, except by revelation, who 
could perform such a work ? None. Then, to none 
could he have attributed it. 

We could comprehend the term eternity, just as 
easily as we could discover the existence and attri- 
butes of God without their being revealed to us. 
"We know there is a God, the Creator of all things. 
We know also that he is omnipotent, omniscient, 
and omnipresent ; we know his attributes ; we are 
told that he is self-created ; but this, our feeble intel- 
lects cannot comprehend, since all things with which 
we are acquainted are created by some primordial 
power. From this circumstance, man is naturally 


inclined to ask, Who made God ? He finds it just as 
impossible to answer this question satisfactorily, as it 
is to comprehend the self-creation, or as it would have 
been to know of the existence and attributes of God, 
simply by an exertion of the intellect, unaided by 

It is not necessary to prove that we could know 
God and his attributes by an exertion of the intellect, 
in order to prove that all men are under obligation to 
act virtuously ; if it were so, I should doubt the uni- 
versality of the obligation. 

The obligation to act virtuously is the same whe- 
ther we are ignorant of our duty or well instructed. 
It is the duty of all men to obey the will of God ; and 
it being his will that men should be virtaous, consti- 
tutes the obligation to be so. 

Since it is our belief that men should depend upon 
the sacred Scriptures as the source from whence they 
derive a knowledge of the will of God, and since we 
believe that it is through the revelation of truths con- 
tained in that sacred volume that we acquire the only 
correct information which we possess concerning the 
existence, attributes, and will of God, it would per- 
haps be proper, in this place, to argue a little farther, 
the question, Can man gain a knowledge of the 
existence and attributes of God, by an exertion of the 
intellect ? 


All mankind, even the most ignorant, barbarous, 
and savage tribes, have some faint idea of the exist- 
ence of a God. But the universal prevalence of this 
notion of the Deity, does not prove that man may, bv 
an effort of the intellect, acquire a knowledge of the 
existence and attributes of the Deity ; for they are 
not acquainted, fully, either with the existence of God 
or with the nature of his attributes. They are almost 
wholly ignorant of his will. They have but a con- 
fused idea of the existence of a supreme being, which 
idea must have been derived from revelation, and 
not from reasoning concerning what they behold in 

If by means of the intellect alone, without the aid 
of revelation, man could become acquainted with the 
existence and attributes of God, it is strange indeed, 
that the absurd notions of heathen mythology pre- 
vailed so universally among men, even at a time 
when some of the brightest intellects that ever ani- 
mated man were exerting their full force upon this 
subject. Why did not the wise men of those days 
discover that the long list of gods and goddesses which 
they worshipped, were mere creatures of the imagina- 
tion ? Why did they not discover that there is but 
one God, the Creator and Preserver of the universe ? 
Even after Paul told them that those images which 
were made with hands were no gods, instead of 


believing him, "they were full of wrath, and cried 
out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians !" 

The wise men of those days had great intellect, and 
their reasoning faculties were fully developed ; but 
what did it teach them of the will of God, or of his 
existence and attributes ? We are told that some of 
the wise men taught that there is but one God, the 
Creator and Preserver of the universe. We doubt 
not that they taught this fact, but we have no idea 
that they learned it from reasoning on what they could 
see before them in nature, we have every reason to 
believe that they were taught it by men. Men who 
had learned it from those to whom God had revealed 

" This light of reason, these dictates of conscience, 
where are they found? Show me, produce me one 
example of the power of this light of nature, this 
light of reason, these dictates of conscience. Show 
me this eye of reason with this light of nature, work- 
ing faith in God ; working out Christian civilization, 
refinement of manners, temperance, justice, public 
virtue, and humanity ; to say nothing of piety, and 
the love and admiration of the purity of God ! and I 
will lend a willing ear to such a demonstration. But 
the annals of the world, and the experience of the 
present generation, afford no such instances. 

''I am told of the wisdom and civilization, aad of 


the moral virtues of a Solon, a Pythagoras, a Socrates, 
a Plato, a Xenophon, an Aristotle, a Zeno, a Seneca, 
&c. I also know something about them, and of the 
schools in which they were brought up, the schools 
which they founded, and the lives which they led. I 
will not ' draw their frailties from their dread abode.' 

" But they were educated men. In what schools of 
tradition were they brought up ? They received instruc- 
tion. They did not create it. The glimmering, flicker- 
ing lamp which gave them light, was kindled by 
radiations from a fire that God kindled on Mount 
Sinai, in Arabia, from a mystic lamp that shone in a 
tabernacle pitched by Moses in the desert, and from a 
temple which Solomon the "Wise raised in Jerusalem. 
Sinai is older than Athens or Parnassus; and Mount 
Zion than Mars-hill. Moses was born more than a 
thousand years before Pythagoras, Solon, Socrates, 
Plato, Xenophon, Zeno, or Seneca. Some of these 
were contemporaries of the Jewish prophets. But 
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, antedate them all more than 
fifteen hundred years. David sang before Homer, 
and Solomon wrote his Proverbs and his Ecclesiastes 
before Solon, the oldest of them, was born." 

It is not difficult to account for the knowledge 

which men have of the Deity, without believing that 

they obtained their knowledge from the light of nature. 

It is much easier to account for it by believing what 



the Bible says. It tells us that God revealed himself 
to man, and told man what he wished him to do. The 
knowledge of God would naturally spread, from those 
to whom he had revealed himself, to the rest of man- 
kind. God revealed himself to Adam, and Noah was 
well acquainted with the existence and attributes of 
God. From Adam the human race descended, and 
since his day, the knowledge of God has existed in 
the minds of men. 

It would make no difference, however, with respect 
to the obligations resting upon us, whether we become 
acquainted with them by means of revelation, or by 
an exertion of the intellect ; if we possess the means 
of acquiring that knowledge, and do not avail our- 
selves of the means afforded, we are inexcusable. 
We cannot perform our duties when we are ignorant 
of them, except by accident, and of course we should 
not in that case be acting with a desire to obey the 
will of God. 

Man's intellectual powers are capable of progressive 
improvement, and his progress in virtue may be com- 
mensurate with his ability to acquire knowledge ; for 
the more we know of our obligations, the better we 
are prepared to perform them. And since, by our 
progressive improvement in virtue, we approach 
nearer and still nearer to perfection, it seems evident 
that our constitution is such, that we may, by per- 


severing in well-doing, attain to that degree of perfec- 
tion in virtue, that transcendent purity, which will 
really fit us for entering the society of the celestial 
spirits which surround the throne of the eternal 
Jehovah. Such transcendent virtue is the highest 
aspiration of the best of men. 

As the soul can go on thus, purifying itself and 
becoming more and more virtuous, so it can follow the 
downward course of vice, and sink deeper and still 
deeper by its influence, until it at last becomes so 
depraved as to be irretrievably lost ; so vile, indeed, 
as to pass unnoticed the fair promises and glorious 
reward which virtue offers to entice it from the error 
of its ways. It is evident, then, that the best way to 
promote our happiness and to protect ourselves from 
the corrupting, dangerous, and destructive influence 
of vice, is to flee from it at all times, and not permit 
ourselves to take the first step in it ; for, having taken 
the first step, we are too apt to proceed step by step, 
slowly it may be, yet surely, to the inevitable destruc- 
tion which awaits those who depart from the paths of 
virtue and return not. Even if we return to virtue 
after having indulged for a time in the allurements of 
vice, there is a void to fill up, a portion of our time 
lost to virtue, which no act of our lives can ever after- 
ward repay, a void which we are powerless to fill. 

Since it is our duty to act virtuously at all times, and 


since we cannot, at any time, be more virtuous than 
duty requires, it would, of course, be impossible for 
us to repair the breach which we have made in a vir- 
tuous life. It is like allowing a moment of time to 
pass by unheeded ; it is gone, never to be restored. 
Such is the case with virtue ; no act of ours can 
remove the dark spot upon our characters which is 
caused by departing from virtue; yet our Heavenly 
Father, in His infinite goodness and mercy, will throw 
a veil over it. so that it will appear no more against 
us for ever, if we turn from vice, and serve Him with 
a pure heart. 

Owing to a lack of moral culture, in some instances 
to the intricacy of the subject, and, in others, to false 
teaching, men do not always perceive the relations in 
which they stand, and which give rise to moral obli- 
gation : consequently, men are sometimes unconscious 
of the obligation resting upon them, for the reasons 
just stated. 

They sometimes perceive the relation without hav- 
ing the will to perform the obligation. In this case 
their want of virtue is evident : but in the other cases 
mentioned we cannot so readily determine whether a 
man is to be held guilty of culpable neglect, or 
whether he is excusable for failing to perform his 

However, his ignorance, or his being led into error 


by false teaching, cannot, in any way, change the rela- 
tions under which he is created; therefore his obliga- 
tions remain unaltered. If he does not know that he 
ought to do unto others as he would have others do 
unto him, his ignorance does not change the obliga- 
tion ; it is a duty which all men owe to each other. 
If he does not know that he ought to love God, still 
piety is a virtue which every one ought to practise ; 
and one's ignorance of the fact by no means removes 
the obligation ; for God is the author of man's exist- 
ence, the preserver of his life, and the promoter of his 
happiness, and this is, nevertheless, true, even though 
he should be ignorant of the existence of God. 

I do not believe it is taught in any part of the Bible 
that a man is excusable for not discharging his duty, 
if he is ignorant of his moral obligations. On the 
contrary, there are many portions of the sacred Scrip- 
tures which seem to oppose the belief that ignorance 
is an excuse for not discharging our duties. 

Of course, no reasonable person believes that wilful 
ignorance is an excuse for failing to perform our obli- 
gations. It is doubly wicked to perform a sinful act 
ignorantly, if our ignorance is owing to a want of 
inclination to learn our duty. But many have not 
the means of becoming acquainted with the will of 
God ; and our ignorance of what is right is often 
owins to our inability to decide on account of the in- 


tricacy of the subject. Our duty in such cases is not 
to do anything doubtingly. Such is the instruction 
of St. Paul. James also teaches the same (General 
Epistle, chap. i. verse 5), "If any of you lack wisdom, 
let him ask of Grod who gives to all men liberally and 
upbraids not, and it shall be given him. (V. 6,) But 
let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that 
wavereth, is like a wave of the sea, driven with the 
wind and tossed. (V. 7,) For let not that man think 
that he shall receive anything of the Lord." 

It would, indeed, seem that a man should be pitied 
and spared condemnation, if his failure to perceive the 
relations in which he is constituted is owing to his un- 
wary credulity ; being misguided by false teaching. 
But, if we consider ignorance an excuse in such cases 
for neglect of duty, we overlook the fault of taking 
the works and instructions of other men for our rules 
of right, and neglecting to study the sacred Scriptures 
for ourselves ; in which way we might learn correctly 
our duties and obligations. 

If men's ignorance of their duty proceeds from 
entire lack of instruction, and they never during their 
lives have had an opportunity of acquiring knowledge, 
it would seem evident to our imperfect judgment that 
they are excusable if they fail to perform their obli- 

Barbarous and savage tribes, for instance, are be- 


lieved by many to be excusable in the sight of God 
for most of the wicked acts which they perform. This 
may be true, but it is almost impossible for us to decide 
to what extent they are responsible. 

They all have some knowledge of the Deity, though 
the faint ray of light which illumines their dark path 
is but feeble and flickering. It furnishes such a guide 
' to those benighted wanderers to eternity, as the pale, 
dim light of the far distant stars to the traveller who 
wanders forth from his dwelling when the shadows of 
evening have enveloped the earth in thick darkness. 
Yet, if they do but follow the light which they per- 
ceive, their reward is sure. 

From the following portion of the sacred Scriptures 
it appears that if they fail to discharge their duties to 
the utmost of their abilities, they must suffer the 
penalty of their transgressions, notwithstanding their 
ignorance : " For there is no respect of persons with 
God. For as many as have sinned without law shall 
also perish without law ; and as many as have sinned 
in the law shall be judged by the law ; for not the 
hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers 
of the law shall be justified." 

It often happens in the course of life that we per- 
ceive our obligation to perform certain duties, but do 
not feel disposed to discharge the obligation. If, from 
a love of duty, we perform our obligations, independ 


ently of our inclinations, we strengthen our resolution 
to act in obedience to the will of Grod. By repeatedly 
performing any duty which is not, at first, agreeable 
to our feelings, we enjoy so much satisfaction in the 
consciousness of having done right, that it finally 
becomes a pleasure to do that which has been the 
means of our repeatedly enjoying the comforting 
answer of a good conscience. - 

Any one who has gained that degree of self-control 
by which he is enabled to discharge his duties from a 
high resolve to perform his obligations to others inde- 
pendently of feeling, has attained to no slight degree 
of virtue. There is far more praiseworthiness in per- 
forming an action from a regard for moral obligation 
irrespective of feeling, than in doing the same act from 
feeling irrespective of the obligation. 

If a man is impelled to the performance of his duty, 
both by feeling and moral obligation, it is no trial for 
him to do it. Acts of virtue would be his chief 
pleasure ; but if he acts contrary to his feelings to 
fulfil his moral obligations, it requires a struggle; a 
great effort of the will, aided by a considerable degree 
of moral worth, is necessary to enable him to subdue 
the feelings and make them subservient to the will. 

If a man is by nature inclined to be honest, he 
cannot covet his neighbor's goods, and he would be 


honest whether impelled by moral obligation or not ; 
to be honest, would require no effort on his part. 

Suppose that another person who had an ardent 
desire to become possessed of his neighbor's goods 
should invariably resist all thievish propensities, he 
would be honest too ; but with him there would be a 
continual struggle going on between the will and the 
feelings. If a man so constituted can be strictly 
honest, he deserves greater praise than he whose 
feelings harmonize with his obligations; for he gives 
stronger proof of enduring virtue. 

The man who is not tempted to sin, can very easily 
obey the will of his Creator. The man who has no 
desire to perform a certain act of wickedness, and no 
inducement to do so, is not likely to err in that par- 
ticular. But we are all tempted in some way to sin ; 
and if we resist the temptation we deserve the greater 
praise, and our virtue is strengthened. The apostle 
James says : "My brethren, count it all joy when you 
fall into divers temptations ; knowing this, that the 
trying of your faith worketh patience." 

A few remarks concerning habit appear very pro- 
perly to claim a place among other things which 
affect our virtue. 

Men perform many acts of virtue without having 
their moral obligations either to mankind or to their 
Creator in their thoughts ; this is the effect of habit ; 
9 G 


and this fact warns us of the importance of forming 
virtuous habits. Habit has a powerful influence on 
the mind and actions of man, both in impelling him 
to the performance of virtuous actions when he has 
formed correct habits, and in preventing him from 
avoiding evil practices when vicious habits have been 

It is important to become habitually virtuous, not 
only because we then act virtuously almost involun- 
tarily, but because if we are not thus virtuous we 
are occasionally indulging in some vice — thus form- 
ing a habit of vicious conduct, and by degrees riveting 
the chains of death upon ourselves. 

The difficulty of freeing ourselves from evil habits, 
when they are once confirmed, is forcibly illustrated 
by the drinker of ardent spirits. 

"The bibber of wine and the drinker of ardent 
spirits readily acknowledge that the sensation was at 
first only moderately pleasing, and perhaps in the very 
slightest degree. Every time they carried the intoxi- 
cating potion to their lips the sensation grew more 
pleasing, and the desire for it waxed stronger. Per- 
haps they were not aware that this process was going 
on in virtue of a great law of humanity ; but they do 
not pretend to deny the fact. They might, indeed, 
have suspected at an early period that chains were 
gathering around them, whatever might be the cause ; 


but what objection bad they to being bound with links 
of flowers, delightful while they lasted, and easily 
broken when necessary ? But here was the mistake : 
link was added to link, chain was woven with chain, 
till he who boasted of his strength was at last made 
sensible of his weakness, and himself a prisoner, a 
captive, a slave." 

Thus we perceive that the mind and the physical 
organization may become so subservient to habit, that 
it is almost impossible to free ourselves from its 

Habits of virtue are just as stern and as difficult to 
overcome as vicioiis habits ; and if we persevere in a 
course of virtue for many years, we will become so 
accustomed to doing right that we will continue to do 
so without being often inclined to err, and without 
even pausing to think of the moral obligations which 
originally induced us to form such habits. 




Human happiness consists in the enjoyment of 
pleasure unmixed with pain. In this definition of 
happiness we take no account of that calm tranquillity 
of soul which is the result of Christian purity of life. 
That of itself renders a man happy under the most 
distressing- circumstances. The soul of the Christian 


may be calm and even happy, whilst his body is burn- 
ing on the funeral pile of the martyr. He looks for- 
ward with confident expectation of being received by 
his Father in Heaven with the welcome plaudit, 
"Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into 
the joy of thy Lord ;" and, regardless of the temporary 
suffering of the body, he is happy in anticipating that 
bliss which is to last for ever. 

Without this hope which animates the bosom of the 
pious Christian, there can be no such thing as perma- 
nent happiness on earth. 

Man is so constituted that both his mental and phy- 
sical organization conspire to change a state of exist- 
ence which, it would seem, is most desirable. 

The body is, at all times, subject to various maladies 
which cause pain and distress, which, for a time, 


greatly exceed any pleasurable emotion that can be 
excited. So long as disease is racking the body with 
pain, we cannot be happy ; we cannot enjoy a pleasure 
mingled with pain. Health, then, is essential to 
happiness; that degree of happiness which man may 
enjoy without the consolation which Christianity 

Our physical organization is such that we do not 
visually enjoy a continuation of health and entire free- 
dom from pain for a long period of time, so that the 
interruptions to happiness from this source alone would 
prevent us from ever becoming permanently happy on 

An ill-organized mind is continually depriving its 
possessor of those means of happiness which every 
one has a right to enjoy. 

If the mind of a man dwells upon unpleasant occur- 
rences, looks forward to the time when others still 
more disagreeable shall happen, always beholds the 
dark side of the picture of human life, a deep-seated 
melancholy will overshadow his spirits, and his gloomy 
countenance will, at a glance, reveal the fact that sad 
and sorrowful thoughts exclude happiness from his 

If man could become permanently happy on earth, 
the most important inquiry would be, By what mode 
of life is that state of existence to be attained ? But 


since he cannot hope for continual and uninterrupted 
enjoyment, we will endeavor to learn by what mode 
of life he may reasonably expect to receive the great- 
est amount of enjoyment unmixed with pain. We 
will endeavor to learn whether a life of virtue or of 
vice will contribute more to happiness. 

The virtuous man enjoys in moderation the means 
of happiness which God has furnished ; he is prudent 
in all things ; so that he seldom violates the will of 
God in any respect, living, as nearly as man can, in 
strict obedience to the will of his Creator. 

The vicious man plunges into excess of every kind ; 
lays hold on every enjoyment within his reach, regard- 
less whether it may be partaken of lawfully or unlaw- 
fully ; he drains the cup of pleasure to the very dregs. 
The wretchedness of such individuals at a later period 
of their lives, and their insatiable thirst for new plea- 
sures, a thirst which is never satisfied ; their dispirited 
dejection and melancholy when in a state of quiet and 
sobriety, all attest the fact that they have acted un- 
wisely, and taken the wrong road in their eager pur- 
suit of happiness. They wander entirely away from 
the path of virtue, the true road to happiness. 

Mankind have been in pursuit of happiness since 
the days of the dwellers in the garden of Eden till the 
present time. Various are the modes by which they 
have endeavored to attain to this desirable state of 


existence, and various the success with which they 
have met. 

The restless activity of the human mind is such 
that in the pursuit of this grand object of our lives, 
all the joys of Eden could not afford happiness enough 
to satisfy just two human beings. Even in that beau- 
tiful abode, surrounded by all the joys of earth, man 
learned to believe that he was not as happy as he 
might be. He felt that there Avas a void not yet 
filled, a degree of happiness to which he had not yet 
attained. In the vain hope of enjoying this imagined 
degree of happiness, he dared to violate the direct 
command of his Creator. 

Of all the plans which men have hitherto tried, of 
all the conditions and positions in which they have 
been placed in life, none have proved capable of pro- 
ducing permanent happiness. The experience of all 
ages proves that man cannot be permanently happy 
on earth. Yet man is so constituted as to derive 
a certain degree of happiness from a variety of 

The philosopher, for example, derives a certain 
degree of happiness from the pleasure which study 
affords him ; from discovering the cause of existing 
phenomena, hitherto unknown ; from being governed 
by reason rather than by desire, and from such other 


sources of enjoyment as are connected with scientific 

The sensualist derives, or more properly endeavors 
to derive, happiness from the pleasures of sense and 
the unrestrained indulgence of his appetites. This 
plan of seeking happiness only serves to lure its 
votaries on to a sure and speedy destruction. 

The laboring man derives a certain amount of hap- 
piness from his pursuits, which is afforded him by the 
enjoyment he has in the profits of his labor. And so 
it is with every pursuit in life ; each promising an 
increase of happiness, but none having the power to 
make happiness permanent. 

When we reflect upon the various means which our 
Father in Heaven has provided for contributing to 
the happiness of man, it would indeed seem to the 
partial observer to be a part of his design that man 
should be permanently happy on earth, as well as in 
heaven. When we behold how plainly every part 
of his creation exhibits a certain means adapted to a 
certain end, when we consider the intricate construc- 
tion of the human system and the perfection with 
which every portion of that system is formed, we are 
apt to think that such a being ought to be happy. 
We behold all this, and ask with some degree of sur- 
prise, Why is he not happy ? 

The pleasures which flow into the soul through the 


medium of the senses, are as countless as the sands of 
the sea-shore. But there is a peculiarity about the 
physical construction of man which we must not 
overlook ; for it not only answers the question, in 
part, Why are we not happy ? but it also testifies in 
favor of our belief, that man is most happy when he 
is most virtuous. 

In every means provided in the physical construc- 
tion of man, for contributing to his happiness, there 
is an accompanying cause of sorrow ; and that, too, 
in the very medium through which the pleasure is 
derived ; so that the utmost degree of caution, pru- 
dence, and temperance are requisite in all of our acts, 
else a greater degree of sorrow than of pleasure will 
be our portion. 

Through the medium of vision, we enjoy the plea- 
sure of beholding flowering meadows, richly-adorned 
gardens, picturesque landscapes, beautiful cascades, 
grand and magnificent cataracts. We behold the 
rainbow with its varied hues, and the deep sea dotted 
here and there with a verdant island. 

Such scenes, too numerous to mention, contribute 
greatly to the happiness of men, by diverting their 
minds for a time from the cares and toils of life, and 
filling the soul with that unalloyed pleasure which 
we call happiness. But although we may, through 
the medium of vision, behold many gratifying scenes, 


some of which may for a time produce an ecstasy of 
delight, still, through the same medium, we may 
behold the most odious and revolting scenes, such as 
would produce exceedingly disagreeable and unhappy 

So it is with each of the senses with which man is 
endowed. We may be enraptured with soft, melodi- 
ous, and tuneful sounds ; or we may be almost dis- 
tracted by those which are harsh, discordant, and 
inharmonious. We may be delighted by sweet odors, 
or nauseated by disagreeable ones. Touch and taste 
follow the same rule. Hence it is evident that man 
is not so constituted as to be permanently happy in 
life. And since the same medium through which joy 
is received, is liable to become the source of sorrow, 
he who seeks happiness in sensual gratification, is as 
liable to find sorrow as joy. 

There are many persons who do not expect to enjoy 
happiness in an uninterrupted indulgence of their 
appetites, but seek it in some other way which is 
equally uncertain. Some hope to become happy by 
acquiring wealth ; others seek happiness in rank and 
titles of distinction, and in the various other objects 
which call forth the efforts of the ambitious ; vainly 
hoping that their happiness will be complete and per- 
manent when the object of their pursuit is obtained. 

The industrial pursuits contribute greatly to the 

H U M AN JI A P P I N E S S . 1 7 

happiness, not only of those who are thus usefully 
employed, but of those also who are in need of the 
product of their labors. There is a happiness in 
being usefully employed, a happiness which riches 
cannot supply. This is evinced in the disappointment 
which men feel, when by the profits of their labor 
they have acquired wealth enough to enable them to 
retire from business. They had vainly hoped that 
wealth would make them permanently happy, but to 
their sorrow they find that they were really more 
happy when cheered by the consciousness of being 
usefully employed, and gratified by the steady ap- 
proach to that object which they wished to accom- 
plish. A change of circumstances cannot bring the 
expected degree of happiness. 

The laboring man who has accumulated sufficient 
wealth to enable him to retire from business, is sur- 
prised to learn that after he has ceased to labor and 
begun to enjoy life, as he would call it, the amount 
of happiness which he enjoys in his new mode of life 
falls far short of his expectations. He is apt to be 
much less happy than whilst engaged at his former 
business. Then all of his time was occupied, and 
whilst successful, he enjoyed the profits of his labor, 
the increase of business, and the satisfaction of earning 
a support by honest industry. 

Whilst a man is thus engaged, he is not apt to 


attend to any kind of pursuit by which he might 
amuse or instruct himself when business was stopped, 
and his time unemployed. He is too busy to attend 
to such pursuits, and when he has grown old with 
laborious habits, he has no taste for intellectual pur- 
suits. He is not accustomed to society, not being 
willing to spare a portion of his time for social inter- 
course with his neighbors. Consequently, when he 
retires from business, his time hangs heavily upon 
him, and he knows not how to beguile the weary 

After all, he finds that there is more of happiness 
in being usefully employed, than he had before 
imagined. He also learns that he is sure to suffer the 
pangs of disappointment, who seeks to obtain some 
object in life by which he shall enjoy permanent 

In the study of the sciences, a man lives, as it were, 
in a different world from that in which he lives who 
seeks happiness in the gratification of his appetites. 
He is withdrawn from the turmoil of life and strife 
with men for those preferments which are usually 
sought after, and his mind calmly pursues its search 
for truth in a peaceful and tranquil way ; no moment 
of his life is a blank which he knows not how to fill 
up ; and he is exceedingly happy, for a time at least, 
when, after having; sought diligentlv for some hidden 


truth., his labor is crowned with success ; or having 
discovered something which will materially benefit 
mankind, his benevolent heart gives utterance to its 
feelings, in the joyful exclamation — Eureka — Eureka ! 
His happiness, also, is transitory, yet it is complete ; 
for he hopes not to obtain permanent happiness in 
any joy that earth can afford. 

Ambition promises happiness to a great number of 
men ; they strive, toil, and suffer in the hope of being 
happy at last, in the enjoyments of the high object 
of their pursuit. If the}^ obtain the object for which 
they so earnestly strive, their happiness may be intense 
for a time, but it must also be short-lived. No matter 
how high the object may be considered by men, still 
it is subject to the same rule that governs human 
happiness from any other source ; consequently it 
cannot last long. 

The object being attained, the motive for ambition 
ceases ; and the human mind cannot be continually 
recalling a joy which has passed, and enjoying it over 
and over as-ain, without becoming; tired and disgusted. 
It looks forward for some other and still greater work 
to accomplish, so that, if the highest hope of the most 
ambitious of men were realized, no great degree of 
happiness would result therefrom. 

Alexander was such a man, and his ambition was 
gratified. He passed through the oriental nations, 


conquering all that portion of the globe which was 
then believed to be the world, carrying death and 
destruction in his train, hurrying thousands of human 
beings off the stage of action, as if some dreadful pes- 
tilence had swept over the land. The object of his 
ambition was to conquer all the nations of the world. 
He gained that object. AVas he then happy ? Alas, 
no ! He wept because there were no more worlds 
that he could conquer. Earth could gratify his lofty 
ambition no longer; he had no other source of enjoy- 
ment, so he became a wretched, depraved being, and 
died a most ignoble death. 

It seems that some persons, owing either to the pecu- 
liarity of their mental or physical construction, or to 
both, are so constituted as to enjoy the same pleasures 
much more intensely than others; but it does not 
appear from this fact that they are so formed as to be 
happier than others of a different temperament ; for he 
who feels pleasure thus intensely is just as liable to 
intense suffering. The chances for pleasure and pain 
being about equal, his condition would be no better 
than that of the man whose feeling-s are not excessive. 
He who enjoys the pleasures which are strewn along 
his path in moderation, generally takes grief calmly. 

Human happiness is not a study of to-day, a new I 
object just sprung into existence, which engages the 
attention of mankind from its novelty alone ; it has 


been an object of pursuit among all classes of men in 
every age of the world. 

The ancient philosophers exhibited a knowledge of 
this subject so profound, that their instructions ought 
not to be passed over without some attention. 

In those days, when philosophy began to flourish, 
many believed that wealth was the greatest source of 
happiness that lay in the reach of man. This belief 
has not yet passed entirely out of the minds of men, 
though perhaps more concealed and hidden deeper 
in the recesses of the heart, yet exhibited with suffi- 
cient distinctness by men in their daily transactions, to 
give evidence of its existence. Some of the philoso- 
phers, too, were believers in the omniscience of wealth 
in producing happiness ; if we are to believe the story 
of the search for that alchemy, the philosopher's stone, 
which was to turn all it touched to gold. The wisest 
of the philosophers had, as we are told, a great con- 
tempt for riches. They knew full well that a man's 
happiness does not depend on the amount of property 
which he possesses. 

An extreme case was furnished to mankind which 
exhibited in a most striking manner how inefficient 
wealth is in begetting happiness. Croesus, king of 
Lydia, was the richest man in the world ; he had 
acquired an immense amount of treasure by gathering 
the o-old which was mingled with the sands of the 


river Pactolus, which river flowed through his king- 
dom. Judging, as was customary, that a man's wealth 
was the measure of his happiness, he thought himself 
the happiest man in the world. Wishing to know if 
Solon judged a man's happiness by the same rule, he 
asked him, Of all the men he had ever known, whom 
did he deem the happiest ? Solon answered, Tellus — a 
peaceful and quiet Athenian. Croesus was much sur- 
prised to learn that Solon could believe an obscure 
citizen to be happier than the richest king in the 
world. But, in the end, he learned that wealth could 
not shield him from wretchedness. He was, with all 
his wealth, very unhappy on account of the sad fate 
of his sons ; and, finally, a powerful king came and 
stripped him of his wealth, and made him a prisoner 
the remainder of his life. 

The lives of Diogenes and Socrates admonish us 
against a regard for sensual gratification, and prove 
that contentment is the first step to human happiness. 

The visit paid to Diogenes by Alexander the Great, 
whose wants and whose ambition a world could not 
satisfy, contrasts most forcibly the pleasures of ambi- 
tion with the happiness of contentment. Diogenes, 
though a dweller in a tub, was far happier than the 
monarch of the world. Contentment seems to be 
the alchemy which will turn all that it touches, not to 
gold, but to something better, to happiness. 

II U M A N il A P P IN E S S. 113 

But how is tliis contentment to be obtained ? By 
doggedly commanding the impulses, and resolutely 
suppressing the emotions? This course would not 
result in happiness ; for by doing so, you diminish 
the power of deriving pleasure from the sources of 
enjoyment with which nature has furnished you. 

That contentment which is the result of a conscious- 
ness of irreproachable conduct, of a knowledge of 
having performed our obligations to our Creator, and 
to all mankind, is the contentment which constitutes 

Every man's experience furnishes him with evidence 
that vice has no advantage over virtue, in producing 
happiness; on the contrary, we have abundant proof 
that the virtuous man is much happier than the vicious. 

In addition to the evidence afforded by our own 
observation, we have the words of the distinguished 
preacher, the son of David, king of Jerusalem, teach- 
ing us that he is most happy who is most virtuous. 
King Solomon had wealth, power, and wisdom. He 
exhausted the stores of earthly pleasure. He expresses 
his opinion of the power of such pleasures to produce 
happiness, in the following comprehensive words : 
" Vanity of vanities ; all is vanity." 

Wisdom, power, riches, and all the gratification that 
either or all of these can afford, are but vanity and 
vexation of spirit; if we view them as well-springs 
13* H 


from whence a stream of uninterrupted happiness 
shall flow. " Let us hear the conclusion of the whole 
matter : Fear God, and keep his commandments ; for 
this is the whole duty of man." Be virtuous, and be 



It is sometimes said that man's impulses, his appe- 
tites, a combination of circumstances, and the influence 
of public opinion, oblige him occasionally to do wrong 
although he is aware of his fault, and wishes to do 
right ; that man is so much a creature of circum- 
stances that he can scarcely be said to have a will of 
his own ; that he is driven to and fro like a wave of 
the sea, without even the power to resist ; is so consti- 
tuted that the influences which are thrown around him 
oblige him to err. 

ISTo doubt there are men who yield easily to every 
temptation, and claim to be led on by irresistible 
influences, but " a double-minded man is unstable in 
all his ways." 

Let us see if there is any truth upon which this 


specious excuse for doing wrong is founded. If it is 
true that certain influences by which we are sur- 
rounded oblige us to err, we are not, as I conceive, 
responsible for a failure to discharge our duties except 
so far as we have a share in creating the influences 
which beguile us. But I am not aware of any influ- 
ence by which man is obliged to commit sin, or even 
to neglect his duty, which is the natural result of the 
laws under which we are created ; neither can we be 
obliged to commit sin by any oppression or force which 
man can use. Man may, by force, prevent us from 
discharging some duty which we would like to per- 
form, but he cannot oblige us to commit any kind of 
sin. We have the right and the power to suffer every 
species of affliction, and even death, rather than live 
with the guilt of sin upon our consciences. 

There are many examples on record of holy men 
who have suffered the severest trials to which man 
can be subjected, rather than sin ; examples of men 
who willingly suffered death rather than swerve from 
their determination to keep themselves unspotted from 
the world. How is it, then, that the trifling induce- 
ments which are thrown around us by luxury, profli- 
gacy, or the influence of public opinion, can oblige us 
to turn from the path of duty ? It is not so ; we may 
be induced by such things to neglect our duty, but we 
cannot excuse ourselves for such culpable negligence 


by saying that we were obliged to err. We deceive 
ourselves if we trust in such unmanly excuses. If we 
are thus easily turned from the "strait gate and 
narrow way which leadeth unto life," we cannot truly 
say that we are obliged to do so. We have many ex- 
amples of righteous men who have braved every 
danger with which their path was beset, and resolutely 
journeyed on in the narrow way until death has over- 
taken them and borne them triumphantly to the bliss- 
ful abodes of the spirits of the saints. 

But let us define the word "obliged;" we can then 
more readily determine what a man in this probation- 
ary life is obliged to do. 

A man is obliged to perform an action when he is 
urs;ed bv a violent motive resulting from the command 
of another, and has no right to refuse. 

First. " The motive must be violent." " If a person 
who has done me some little service, or has a small 
place in his disposal, asks me upon some occasion for 
my vote, I may possibly give it him from a motive of 
gratitude or expectation ; but I should hardly say that 
I was obliged to give it him, because the inducement 
does not rise high enough. Whereas if a father or 
master, any great benefactor or one on whom my for- 
tune depends, require my vote, I give it him of 
course ; and my answer to all who ask me why I voted 
so and so is, that my father or my master obliged me; 


that I had received so many favors from, or had so 
great a dependence upon, such a one, that I was 
obliged to vote as he directed me." 

Secondly. "It must result from the command of 
another. Offer a man a gratuity for doing a thing, 
for seizing, for example, an offender ; he is not obliged, 
by your offer, to do it ; nor would he say he is ; though 
he may be induced, persuaded, prevailed upon, tempted. 
If a magistrate, or the man's immediate superior, 
command it, he considers himself as obliged to comply, 
though possibly he would lose less by a refusal in this 
case, than in the former." — Paley. 

In this elucidation of the term by Paley, you observe 
that the examples which he has selected, are those in 
which the individual would have no right to disobey ; 
examples in which there is no higher authority com- 
manding the individual to act differently: in such 
cases, we would indeed say that the man was obliged 
to obey. But examples may arise in which there is 
a violent motive to perform a certain action, resulting 
from the command of another, and yet we not only 
would not be obliged to do what was commanded, but 
it would be wrong for us to do so. 

For which reason we conclude — Thirdly. He is not 
obliged to perform an act, even if there is both a 
violent motive, and that motive is authorized by the 
command of another, unless he has no right to refuse. 


If a father should command his son to conceal some 
valuable property of his, from a public officer who 
was coming, with authority to seize it for the payment 
of a debt which the father justly owed, there would 
be a violent motive for him to do so, authorized by the 
command of another, his father, yet it would not be 
right for him to conceal this property, because a higher 
authority than that of a father, commands him not to 
do so. The right to perforin the command being want- 
ing, he is not obliged to obey. Therefore these three 
things are necessary to constitute the obligation. A 
violent motive, that motive being authorized by the 
command of another, and not having a right to disobey 
the command. Which, after all, amounts to about the 
same as saying that we are obliged to do whatever is 
right. This obligation to do that which is right, 
certainly rests upon all of God's creatures ; but since 
man has the power to violate his obligations, he does 
not always do that which he is obliged to do, if he 
would please God. 

Having given a rule by which we can always 
determine whether we are obliged to perform an action 
or not, let us try the matter by this rule, and see if we 
are obliged to do wrong to gratify our appetites, or 
because public opinion demands it. 

Man's appetites offer a violent motive to indulge in 
excesses which would be wicked and disgraceful. If 


we regard no more of the rule than this, ''A man is 
obliged to perform an act when he is urged by a violent 
motive, resulting from the command of another," we 
might conclude that he was obliged to gratify his 
appetite to excess. 

But this would produce disease, and it is not right 
for us to do anything for a momentary gratification 
that will injure our health. Having once established 
a rule, we should, in morals as in mathematics, apply 
the whole rule to the solution of the questions which 
may be explained by it. With regard to the cravings 
of appetite, it may be urged that the motive is present, 
and the command is not wanting, for the demands of 
the appetite may be regarded as a command from our 
Creator to gratify it, so that the case would be a strong 
one in favor of excessive gratification, if the latter 
portion of the rule is excluded. But by applying the 
whole rale, the obligation is reversed, and we are 
instructed by it that we are obliged not to gratify a 
desire for excessive indulgence. 

Public opinion sometimes offers a violent motive 
for men to do wrong. It exerts a powerful influence 
over the actions of men, as individuals, as members 
of a civil community, and as citizens of a state. Its 
influence is felt in no small circle, nor is it confined 
to a few of our acts ; but it takes notice of every act 
which we perform, that is made known to others. It 


is only our most secret thoughts that public opinion 
does not try and pass sentence upon. Our manners, 
our habits, our fashions, our language, the laws of 
honor, and the law of the land, are established and 
upheld by public opinion. Public* opinion sustains 
virtue and morality in every civilized country ; but 
in many instances it is influenced in its decisions by 
opinions which have long since been proven to be 
erroneous, so that it is not a safe rule in morals to do 
all acts in the performance of which public opinion 
will sustain you. 

Since public opinion does not always require us to 
perform those acts which are by moral law decided to 
be right, we may justly conclude that we are not 
obliged to perform an act simply because public 
opinion decides that we ought, and condemns us as 
being infamous if we do not. 

We would arrive at the same conclusion, if we 
should try some of the acts which public opinion 
requires men to perform, by the rule which we have 
given for deciding whether we are obliged to perform 
an act or not. 

Suppose that the act which public opinion requires 
us to perform, is to fight a duel. We are urged by a 
violent motive, resulting from the command given by 
public opinion that under certain circumstances we 


shall fight a duel or be considered base ; infamous, and 
unworthy of being called men. 

In this example we are urged by a violent motive, 
resulting from the command of another; bat we are 
not obliged to perform the act, we have a right to 
refuse. "We are commanded by a higher authority 
not to do so. Duelling is contrary to the law of the 
land ; and we have a still higher authority against 
duelling, it is a command from God that " Thou shalt 
not kill." 

It is surprising that civilization, enlightenment, and 
moral culture have not yet succeeded in changing 
public opinion with regard to this heathenish practice, 
which had its origin in the days of superstition and 
knight-errantry. The custom of permitting duelling 
arose no doubt from a superstitious belief which for- 
merly prevailed among men, that the aggrieved party, 
or he who had justice on his side, would invariably 
be victorious. This superstitious idea has long since 
ceased to be believed ; yet the unrighteous practice 
which was founded on this belief, unfortunately still 
prevails to some extent even in enlightened commu- 

It may be asked, Does our rule furnish a satisfactory 

reason why we are obliged to obey the will of God ? 

I think it does ; God has commanded man to perform 

certain acts ; the performance of these acts is obedience 



to his will ; there is a violent motive for this obedience, 
arising from the command of God, for he has promised 
man that he should be rewarded with eternal life, if 
he obeyed, and punished if he did not ; and man has 
no right to disobey the commands of»God, for there is 
no higher authority in Heaven or on earth, by which 
he might receive a command to disobey. 

We would not have any one, either wilfully or 
inadvertently, to suppose that when we say we are 
obliged to obey the will of God, we mean that we have 
not the power to disobey. This would lead to a very 
great error ; for if man had not the power to disobey 
the will of God, he would be an irresponsible being ; 
he could not sin, for disobedience to God's will cannot 
be sinful, and if he could not disobey that will, he 
could not sin. 

That man has power to sin, is too evident to need 
an argument. If we should attempt to decide, by the 
actions of men which daily occur within our view, 
whether or not man has the power to sin, we would 
be more likely to conclude that he can do no righteous 
act, than to believe that he can do nothing that is 

The will of God is the limit of moral obligation, 
and all men are equally under obligation to perform 
his will. God has made no exceptions whatever, he [ 
is no respecter of persons, but holds all men bound to 


perform his will. Being all creatures of God, and 
equally bound to perform the will of our Creator, we 
are, of course, equally bound to be pious and virtuous. 
No man has a right to violate any moral law. No 
man has a righf to perform any act that a virtuous 
man may not perforin. No man has a right to do that 
which a Christian may not do. 

Some there are who seem to doubt this, and really 
believe the man who has not made a profession of 
religion, has a better right to act immorally, than he 
who has united with the church, and thereby intimated 
his intention faithfully to perform God's will. 

No one claims that a church member has any right 
to act immorally. They have no right to do so, and 
they claim none. But the man who has not pro- 
claimed his determination to obey the will of God, 
has no better right to act immorally than the church 
member. To act immorally is to disobey the com- 
mands of God, to violate his will. How can any man 
have a right to disobey God ? Whence can he derive 
authority to violate God's will ? A man may, with 
just as much propriety, say that he has a right to do 
wrong, as to say that he has a right to act immorally. 
Does the command, "Thou shalt not steal," apply to 
a particular class of men, or to all mankind ? Are 
we to understand by it, that Christians only are for- 
bidden to steal, or that all men are? The command 


is evidently universal in its application. So are the 
commands, "Thou shalt do no murder;" "Thou shalt 
not commit adultery ;" " Thou shalt not bear false 
witness." And the whole moral law is. without any 
exception, equally binding on all men. 

It is true, that a man by uniting with the church, 
does, by this act, pledge himself to perform Grod's will, 
but this act does not constitute his obligation to live 
righteously and conformably to the will of his Creator, 
neither can it absolve any other human being from 
his obligation thus to live and act. It was his duty 
to act thus, before he proclaimed his intention. 

Why do men blame a church member more severely 
for immoral conduct, than those who have never united 
with the church ? Because by uniting with the church 
he proclaims his intention to perform Grod's will. He 
is not more blamed for immoral conduct than others, 
because others have a better right to act immorally 
than he, for they have no such right. In fact, there 
can be but little difference in the amount of blame to 
be attached to each, for it is just as much their duty 
to act morally as it is his. 

If a member of the church should take the Lord's 
name in vain in the presence of his neighbor, who 
was daily in the habit of using immoral language, his 
neighbor would be disgusted, and think that such a 
man was not a suitable associate for him. But if he 


uses immoral language every day, lie still thinks him- 
self worthy of the respect and esteem of all good men. 
How is this ? How is it that a man, by continually 
acting contrary to the will of God, should acquire a 
right to be immoral? There is great inconsistency 
in this. 

The truth is, every man's imperfection of character 
is in proportion to his Avant of virtue ; and the man 
who would severely, and of course justly, condemn a 
church member for immoral conduct, ought to remem- 
ber that he is daily placing himself in the same 
attitude with respect to his Creator, that the church 
member assumes when he acts immorally. He will 
know then how to estimate his own acts fairly, and 
give his immorality a just amount of condemnation. 



Moral obligation depends upon the will of God. 

To say that a certain act is right, is equivalent to 

saying, it is the will of God that T should perform 

that act. To inquire what is our duty, or what we 



are obliged to do in any instance, is the same as to 
inquire what is the will of God in that instance. 

Some moralists inform us that there are two 
methods of learning the will of God on any point, 
viz. : 1st. " By his express declarations, when they 
are to be had, and which must be sought for in the 
Scriptures." 2d. "By what we can discover of his 
designs and dispositions from his works ; or. as we 
usually call it, the light of nature." 

I must confess that I know of but one medium 
through which God teaches man at the present day, 
to know what is his will ; that medium is the Bible. 
By a careful study of that book we can learn the 
origin, duty or obligations, and final destiny of man. 
It is the text-book with which the Almighty has fur- 
nished man, for the purpose of enabling him to learn 
his will. From that source, and that alone, we can 
learn the whole will of God concerning man. 

The opportunities and the means of discovering the 
will of God by the light of nature, are as numerous, 
and as fully within the reach of those nations which 
are not enlightened by revelation, as of those which 
have the Bible for their guide. But what heathen 
tribe is famed in the annals of history, for having dis- 
covered the will of God by the light of nature ? Not 
one. What one of all the wise men who have lived 
in an asce and in a nation where the Bible was un- 


known, has been able to discover God's will by the 
light of nature and the power of reason ? Not one. 

At a certain age of the world when Socrates, 
Diogenes, and Plato, were living examples of men 
who were skilled in the secrets of philosophy ; when 
the intricacies of mathematics were the delight of 
Archimedes ; the human mind had, without doubt, 
attained to as high a state of reasoning and forming 
correct conclusions from the light of nature, as it has 
ever attained to since. 

At that age of the world, among nations not en- 
lightened concerning the will of God by that great 
light, the Holy Bible, there lived men whose eloquence 
and poetry still serve as models for the aspiring stu- 
dents of poetry and oratory. But not one of all these 
wise men had a correct knowledge of the will of God. 
The ethical systems of the wisest of the heathen phi- 
losophers had a tendency to make man worse, rather 
than to improve his morals, and exhibited only such 
knowledge of the attributes of Deity as they might 
have gathered from tradition. 

The whole history of man, when not guided by the 
revealed will of God, has exhibited a constant ten- 
dency to moral deterioration. In the early ages of the 
world, God held frequent intercourse with men ; they 
learned much concerning his will and his attributes; 
that was, with them, the period of the greatest moral 


purity. They had an opportunity of becoming a most 
pious people. They received instructions from the 
omniscient Creator, and saw the many evidences of 
his omnipotence which vast creation contains. 

They did not, however, continue long to worship 
the true God ; they bowed themselves in solemn 
adoration to the works of their own hands, changing 
" The glory of the uncorruptible God into an image 
made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four- 
footed beasts, and creeping things." For such unwar- 
rantable wickedness, God ceased to have intercourse 
with men ; "Because when they knew God, they glo- 
rified him not as God, neither were thankful, but 
became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish 
heart was darkened." After the Creator had ceased 
to be with, and instruct his irreverent creatures, they 
became a most degraded, abominable, and wretched 
class of beings ; " Who changed the truth of God into 
a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more 
than the Creator, who is blessed for ever." " For this 
cause God gave them unto vile affections." 

The most ancient nations of the earth were accus- 
tomed to consider the period of their earliest exist- 
ence as a nation, the golden age, or the age of greatest 
moral purity. As they began to neglect, and, I may 
say, lose the knowledge of the true God, they began 
to worship the creations of a depraved imagination ; 


they began to adore the gods and goddesses of their 
absnrd mythology ; the purity of their morals became 
corrupt ; they began to be more depraved, and, step 
by step, passed from the golden age to the ages of 
silver, of brass, and of iron. Becoming more degraded 
and wicked the more ignorant they were of the Great 
Gfod, the Creator of the heavens and earth. Thus 
proving that man, when not guided by revelation, 
becomes continually more depraved. 

It is true that some have offered these facts as proof 
that man can gain a knowledge of Grod by the light 
of nature ; but they seem to prove most conclusively 
that he cannot. 

If natural religion furnished the founders of those 
ancient nations with sufficient knowledge to enable 
them to establish their governments upon the firm 
principles of justice and morality, it seems strange 
and incomprehensible that they, guided by this effi- 
cient light, did not go on prospering, daily learning 
more of their obligations, becoming more virtuous, 
and more familiar with the knowledge of the Deity. 

If they had acquired their knowledge of the true 
principles of morality from the light of nature or 
natural religion, this evidently would have been their 
tendency ; but if their knowledge of the Deity was 
acquired by revelation, which, I think, is evidently 
the case, their tendency would be to moral deteriora- 



tion as soon as they began to lose the knowledge 
which had been revealed to them, and as the nation 
grew older, and this knowledge was almost rooted 
out of the minds of the people, it is but reasonable to 
expect that they would be almost wholly ignorant of 
the will and the attributes of the Creator. 

This we find was really their condition ; they con- 
tinually became less virtuous and more ignorant and 
depraved. Hence we conclude, from what has already 
been stated, that all the knowledge which they pos- 
sessed of God and his will, was the very imperfect 
knowledge which they retained by tradition from the 
remote ages in which He had revealed Himself to man. 
Their mythology was, no doubt, a corruption of the 
revelation which God had, in bygone ages, made 
to man. 

The systems of ethics which the philosophers taught, 
were about such productions as might be expected 
to arise from such imperfect information as the learned 
could obtain from tradition and mythology. The 
philosophers were wise men who reasoned very cor- 
rectly. Had they been guided by natural religion in 
the formation of their systems, their productions 
would, without doubt, have been as correct as any 
treatise which the wisest moralist of the present day 
can produce. But this was not the case. Their 
teachings did not harmonize with the revealed will of 


God ; whilst the moralists of the present clay teach a 
system of natural religion which so much resembles 
the revealed will of God, that, without careful exa- 
mination, it would be difficult to distinguish the one 
from the other, were it not for a difference in names. 

The religion which God has taught man is called 
revealed religion, whilst that which writers on moral 
philosophy now teach as something different, yet, in 
effect, the same as the revealed will of God, is called 
natural religion. 

The argument, then, seems to be reduced to this : a 
learned man, who is well acquainted with the revealed 
will of God, can educe from the light which nature 
furnishes him, a system of natural religion which, in 
almost every respect, resembles the revealed will of 
God ; but a learned man, who is very imperfectly 
acquainted with the revealed will of God, who knows 
nothing of it except what he has acquired from tradi- 
tion or heathen mythology, will teach a very incorrect 
kind of religion, a religion which bears scarcely any 
resemblance to the revealed will of God. From these 
facts it appears to be quite evident that man never has 
received any correct information concerning the will 
of God, except by revelation. 

Some authors, all, I believe, who contend that 
natural religion is a means which God has provided 
to enable man to distinguish between good and evil 


and "hold fast that which is good," inform us that 
there are defects in natural religion ; that it is not a 
sufficient guide ; that there is, therefore, a necessity 
of some further guide ; in a word, that man cannot 
correctly and fully comprehend the will of God with- 
out the aid of revelation. Thus teaching us that God 
formed a plan for instructing man concerning his will, 
which was not sufficient to accomplish the object for 
which he had designed it, and that, therefore, he had 
to try a better plan. I hope I shall teach no such 
irreverent doctrine. 

"Much learning- doth make him mad," who, thus 
theorizing, fails to bear in mind that any work which 
God has performed cannot fail to accomplish the 
design which he intended. 

Paul wrote to the Galatians, chap. i. verse 8, " But 
though we or an angel from heaven preach any other 
gospel unto you than that which we have preached 
unto you, let him be accursed." In the twelfth verse 
he tells them whence he received this gospel which 
alone they are to believe. " For I neither received it 
of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation 
of Jesus Christ." 

Man has acquired a knowledge of his duties not by 
the spontaneous productions of his own intellect, nor 
is it taught to him by the rales of natural religion ; it 
is taught him by revelation. 


Let us examine more minutely the principles upon 
i which the system of natural religion is founded. The 
first rule which attracts our attention, and that upon 
I which the whole theory of natural religion seems to 
rest, is the following : — Eule. It is God's will that we 
shall perform all such acts as will contribute most to 
our happiness, both as individuals and as members 
of society. 

"We wish to know from whence this rule derives its 
authority, and what is the penalty which will be 
inflicted if we neglect it, or refuse to obey the require- 
ments of this law. We know from whence the moral 
laws of the Bible derive their authority, we know 
the penalty of a wanton violation of those laws, and 
we know that God, their Author, has the power to 
inflict the penalty that justice demands, no matter 
what that penalty may be. 

I know of no law or precept in the Bible which 
teaches that it is our duty to live in that manner 
which will contribute most to our happiness on earth. 
Where is this rule written? Is it written in the 
great Book of nature, in God's autograph? Can we 
see it written upon the flowering meadow, the rippling 
stream, or on any of the works of our Creator ? No ; 
it is not written there ; we find it alone, on the printed 
pages of Moral Philosophy. From whence, then, does 


it derive its authority ? From him who wrote the 
book, of course. 

We are told that we learn this rule for determining 
the will of God, from what we see of the works of the 
Almighty ; that this rule is an inevitable conclusion, 
derived from the knowledge which we acquire of " the 
divine benevolence" in examining and reflecting upon 
the works of nature ; that the manner in which we 
are created, proves that God designed we should be 
happy on earth. 

If this is all the authority that those who believe in 
the efficacy of natural religion have, for establishing 
such a rule, I consider that they have just no autho- 
rity at all ; for the manner in which man is created, 
does not prove what they affirm. 

They affirm, and imagine they prove, that God so 
created us, that whatever contributes most to our 
happiness, it is his will for us to perform. I doubt 
not that our Heavenly Father desires the happiness 
of his creatures, but cannot discover anything in the 
manner in which man is created, which proves that 
God intended that he should perform only such acts 
as would contribute to his happiness on earth. There 
is nothing in the physical organization of man which 
proves God's design for him to be happy on earth. 
Man is so created, that through the same medium, he 
is equally liable to receive sensations that are pleasur- 


able or disagreeable ; sensations which will promote 
joy or sorrow, happiness or nnhappiness. 

The eye is so constructed that it can, with equal 
facility, see objects that are odious and disgusting, or 
those which are beautiful and delightful. The ear is 
so constructed that it can hear harsh discordant sounds 
with as much ease as it can those which are most 
melodious and tuneful. It is so with all the senses. 
So that, if we attempt to decide from the manner in 
which we are created, whether or not God wishes us 
to do those things only which will contribute most to 
our happiness on earth, we will be in doubt what to 
think; we will be as likely to believe that he intends 
us to be unhappy, as to determine that he wishes our 
happiness. As far as sensation is concerned, the 
chances are about equal. 

Paley says it is evident, from the manner in which 
God created us, that He wished our happiness ; for, 
"If he had wished our misery, he might have made 
sure of his purpose by forming our senses to be so 
many sores and pains to us." " He might have made, 
for example, everything we tasted, bitter ; everything 
we saw, loathsome ; every smell, a stench ; and every 
sound, a discord." There is no proof in this, which 
will serve to establish it as truth, that God wishes his 
creatures to be happy on earth. The same reason, if 
it be a reason, will prove that God did not wish man 


to be happy on earth. For, if he had wished our 
happiness, he might have made sure of his purpose, 
by forming our senses so that they would have been 
continual sources of enjo} r ment. He might have made, 
for example, everything that we tasted, sweet ; every- 
thing we saw, beautiful ; everything we touched, pro- 
duce an agreeable sensation ; every smell, a sweet 
odor ; and every sound, delightful melody. 

The belief that God designed our happiness is not 
derived from what Ave behold in nature. It is not a 
truth which is discovered by man through lessons 
which natural religion teaches. It is taught to us by 

We learn from the Bible that God so loved the 
world, he gave his Son to die for us, that whosoever 
believed on him might not perish, but have eternal 
life. We know that God must have been very desir- 
ous of promoting our happiness, or he would not have 
given his Son to die for us. We cannot doubt that he 
who loved us so much desired our happiness. Eeve- 
lation teaches us this ; but we nowhere find it taught 
in the Bible, that God wishes man to be happy in 
sensual gratification, or in any of the joys of an 
earthly origin. 

We derive the idea that God desires the happiness 
of man from revelation, and not, I believe, from any 
light which nature affords. 


Upon the belief that it is God's will for us to do 
only such acts as will contribute to our happiness, is 
based the whole system of natural religion. This is 
the chief corner-stone of the building : take it away, 
and the whole edifice will come tumbling down upon 
the heads of those who framed it. And yet, it has no 
right to occupy a place in such a building. We have 
no right to take the principles of revealed religion for 
a foundation upon which to build our theories. That 
is taking- stones from the house which God has built 


to lay the foundation of an edifice which we wish to 

If there truly exists a system of morality which 
was established by God, such as is commonly known 
by the name of natural religion, surely the basis of 
that system can be easily discerned by the light which 
nature affords. But the basis of natural religion can- 
not be easily discovered from what we behold in 
nature ; it cannot be learned at all from this source. 
For nothing we behold in nature will teach us that 
God desires our eternal happiness ; and this is the 
kind of happiness which the Scriptures teach us, our 
Father in heaven wishes us to enjoy. 

Neither nature nor revelation teaches us that God 
designed us to be happy in the enjoyment of earthly 
pleasures; but we learn from the Bible that he wishes 


us to be happy in the love of God and obedience to 
his will. 

We learn from the Bible that God desires our 
eternal happiness. He wishes us to be happy in that 
future state of existence where we may, if worthy to 
be so blessed, enjoy perfect, uninterrupted happiness. 
The sacred Scriptures do not teach us that God wishes 
us to be happy in the enjoyment of the pleasures which 
earth affords. On the contrary, it is very plainly 
taught in that sacred volume, that man should disre- 
gard his pleasures, comfort, ease, and safety ; if such 
sacrifice is necessary to enable him to discharge his 
duties as a pious Christian. You shall perform your 
moral obligations without respect to the pleasure or 
pain which may be the consequence of so doing, is the 
spirit of the instructions which the Bible contains. 
The search for happiness on earth is nowhere recom- 
mended in that holy volume ; but happiness is the 
reward which is promised to those who hold out faith- 
ful in the discharge of their religious duties. 

Continued happiness on earth is not promised, 
neither can it be reasonably expected ; except that 
degree of happiness which the pious Christian enjoys 
in the confident hope of eternal happiness. The plea- 
sures which this earth affords without this hope of a 
celestial existence, cannot bring lasting happiness. 

I believe that we cannot truly say there is any 


durable pleasure unalloyed with pain, which does not 
proceed from this hope of eternal bliss in life ever- 

The Bible does not recommend the pleasures which 
man can enjoy in the gratification of his physical 
desires. It does not teach us to hope for happiness 
in the lusts of the flesh. Hear what Paul says on 
this subject. Gal. v. 21, " They that are Christ's have 
crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts, 
(vi. 8.) He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh 
reap corruption ; but he that soweth to the Spirit, 
shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." Romans vii. 
13, "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye 
through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, 
ye shall live." 

From these, and many such passages of the Scrip- 
tures, we learn that it is not the will of our Father in 
heaven for us to seek happiness in the enjoyment of 
the pleasures which this life affords. We are not for- 
bidden the enjoyment of any pleasure to a reasonable 
extent, which is not wicked ; which is not productive 
of harm to ourselves or others ; but such enjoyment 
is not the source from whence we are to expect hap- 

What kind of happiness is it possible for man to 
enjoy, except such happiness as is the result of grati- 
fications which do by no means direct his mind to, or 


prepare it for the joys of eternity, if he is without the 
hope which the gospel inspires, and ignorant of its 
glorious promises ? Every species of happiness which 
he could then enjoy would be confined to the tem- 
poral blessings of this life. 

Natural religion cannot teach him to expect hap- 
piness in an eternal life ; it cannot teach him to do 
those things only which will prepare him for the 
enjoyment of everlasting happiness; but if it teaches 
him to perform those acts which contribute most to 
his happiness, it must mean that he should make it 
his business through life to avail himself of every 
temporal blessing within his reach. Such a religion 
would just suit the most impious sensualist. It would 
not harmonize with the revealed will of God at all ; 
for that teaches us to disregard temporal blessings for 
the sake of performing the will of God. 

We will now examine the manner in which natural 
religion teaches men their duty ; that is, the manner 
in which we are told it operates to teach men their 
duty ; we will have an opportunity then of judging 
whether it gives any evidence of its divine origin in 
its mode of instructing men. 

If anything concerning God's will can be learned 
by natural religion without the aid of revelation, it 
must be learned through experience ; this, we are told, 
is the case by those who believe that natural religion 


establishes principles in morals which God approves. 
We are told that when we wish to learn our duty by 
means of natural religion, "we can form no opinion 
respecting the result of two opposite courses of action, 
until they be both before us. Hence we cannot cer- 
tainly know what the law is, except by breaking it." 

Suppose a man wishes to learn from natural religion 
whether it is agreeable to God's will or not for him to 
become a drunkard, he must drink intoxicating liquors 
until he is thoroughly drunk. After he recovers from 
the effects of intoxication, he must study his case over, 
and endeavor to decide whether the pain which he 
suffered from drunkenness exceeded the pleasure 
which he derived from quaffing the pleasant but poi- 
sonous beverage. If he cannot satisfy himself by the 
first trial, if he is still in doubt whether he felt more 
pleasure or more pain in his first trial of inebriety, he 
must try it again and again, until he is satisfied whe- 
ther God approves of drunkenness or not. 

If he decides that the pleasure which he enjoys 
exceeds the degree of pain which he suffers by becom- 
ing intoxicated, natural religion would teach him that 
it is God's will for him to indulge to excess in drink- 
ing intoxicating liquors. 

Revealed religion teaches differently ; we are not 
required by it to sin, in order that we may learn 
whether it is right for us to perform a certain act. 


We are plainly told what we must do, and what leave 
undone. With regard to drunkenness, we are told to 
avoid it as a sin of a gross and degrading nature. 
We are not permitted by revealed religion to form a 
habit of sinning before we can learn whether we are 
doing right or wrong. 

It seems to me evident that any religion which 
might permit a man to become a confirmed drunkard 
before it taught him that drunkenness was contrary 
to the will of God, and by which he might never 
learn that truth, is not a religion which was estab- 
lished by our Heavenly Father, nor can it receive 
his sanction. 

There are some sins which, if practiced in youth, 
seldom produce any evil effects which the sinner can 
discern, until manhood, or even old age, has come on. 
I do not think that God would sanction a religion, 
which will permit a person to practice a sin for years, 
before he can possibly discover, by means of it, that 
he is acting contrary to the will of God. 

It is true of almost every species of sin that, at 
first, man derives pleasure from indulging in it. For 
the sake of this enjoyment he is tempted to sin again 
and again, until, as is often the case, a habit of sinning 
is formed which it is very difficult to overcome. 
Natural religion does not, as we are told, warn a man 
that any act is wicked or contrary to the will of God, 


unless he experiences more pain than pleasure from 
indulging in it. Since it is natural for man to receive 
pleasure from indulging in sin, and since the pleasant 
emotions always precede whatever pain we may suffer 
from sinning, it is evident that the first impressions 
made on our minds by natural religion, with regard 
to every species of sin, would be, that every sin we 
commit is right. 

This may be illustrated by a familiar example : an 
individual wishes to deceive another, he tells him that 
which is not true ; if he believes it, the falsifier is 
pleased, because he has gained his object ; he may 
regret it afterwards, if his falsehood is discovered ; 
but the first emotion which he would feel would be 
that of pleasure. The first impression, then, which 
he would receive from natural religion, would be, that 
to bear false witness is according to the will of God. 
The case is the same with regard to drunkenness, 
stealing, and every other vice of which man is guilty. 

There is another fact with regard to lying, and 
other vices, which serves to throw some light on the 
importance of natural religion. I think every one 
will agree with me in saying that there are some 
persons in the world who derive more "pleasure than 
pain from lying. Natural religion would teach those 
persons it is absolutely certain that to tell lies is right. 
There are other species of vice from the partaking of 


which, some persons seem to derive more pleasure 
than pain. Natural religion would teach those persons 
that the sins which they delight in are no sins, but 
acts which God approves ; whilst it would teach the 
pious Christian that such wickedness was an abomina- 
tion in the sight of the Lord ; that is, if he judged by 
its effects on others ; for his piety would necessarily 
prevent him from partaking of anything that was 

This leads us to observe that the pious are excluded 
from all the benefits of natural religion, since they 
cannot willingly partake of any sin without losing 
their claims to piety ; and without partaking of a sin, 
a man cannot tell whether he would derive more 
pleasure or pain from indulging in it. 

The first sensations on entering into almost any 
kind of vice are pleasant ; were it not so, vice would 
not be alluring. If its loathsomeness and hideousness 
preceded the pleasure that it may afford, it would be 
disgusting to all men. The first impressions which 
we receive are generally the most lasting ; therefore, 
if we were guided by natural religion, we would be 
inclined to do evil rather than good. 

In Way land's Moral Science, we are taught that 
natural religion is a means which God has provided 
to enable man to discover his will, without the aid of 
revelation. Perhaps we can learn something more 


about natural religion by examining a few of Dr. 
Wayland's remarks concerning it. 

On page 129, of bis Elements of Moral Science, we 
find the following : " The facts on wbich natural 
religion and the intellectual power to derive tbe moral 
laws from tbe facts, bave been in tbe possession of man 
from the beginning. Yet the whole history of man 
has exhibited a constant tendency to moral deteriora- 
tion. This is proved by the fact that every people, 
not enlightened by revelation, consider the earliest 
period of their history as the period of the greatest 
moral purity." 

If every people not enlightened by revelation, show 
a constant tendency to moral deterioration, it is evident 
that natural religion was not established by Grod as a 
guide for his people. God surely never did establish 
a guide for his people by which they were led to 
degeneracy and moral deterioration ; no — never. 

On page 119, of "Wayland's Moral Science," we 
find the following: " We know that we are so made 
as to derive happiness from some courses of conduct, 
and to suffer unhappiness from others. Now, no one 
Can doubt that the intention of our Creator in these 
cases was that we should pursue the one course and 
avoid the other. Or, again, we are so made that we 
are rendered unhappy, on the whole, by pursuing a 
course of conduct in some particular manner, or 
13 K 


beyond a certain degree. This is an intimation of our 
Creator respecting the manner and the degree m 
which he designs us to pursue that course of conduct." 
In this there is much truth apparent to those who 
know the will of God and His manner of governing 
His creatures. It is evident to us if God punishes 
us that we have violated some one of his laws. Why 
is this evident to us ? Because we know if we violate 
God's laws he will punish us. If we did not under- 
stand God's mode of ruling the universe, we would 
not be able to decide; from the fact that we suffer pain 
by performing certain acts, we have violated some of 
God's laws. 

We readily acknowledge the truth of what is above 
quoted from Dr. v7 ayland, but cannot perceive how 
these facts give any evidence of the existence of 
natural religion. The truths of revealed religion are 
made evident by such facts, but another religion is not 
established by them. 

The man who is wholly ignorant of the truths of 
revealed religion would no more perceive the finger 
of God in the punishment he received for violating 
some of the laws of nature than the boy would who, 
in his unguarded pursuit of a butterfly, ran too near 
the brink of a stream, lost his centre of gravity, and, 
as a consequence of having violated a law of nature, 
fell into the water. The boy would know that he had 


fallen into the water, but would not have the most 
remote idea that this was in consequence of having 
violated a law which God has established. The man 
might avoid the act in the future, but he would be a 
Newton, greater than a Newton, if he learned the 
existence and attributes of God from the data be- 
fore him. 

All men are well aware of the fact that he who 
indulges in vice of anv kind is sure to suffer according 
to the nature of the vice of which he is guilty. If he 
drinks too deeply of intoxicating liquors, he will feel 
the nausea and temporary insanity which are the 
natural effects of drunkenness. If he contends with 
his fellow man in angry combat, he expects to suffer 
the pain which will be produced by the blows of his 
antagonist. But I do not perceive how it is that phi- 
losophy can make a religion of such facts. 

If I violate the laws by which the human system is 
kept in a healthful and vigorous condition, I expect to 
suffer the penalty of such transgression in the flesh. 
If I violate the obligations which I owe to myself and 
my neighbor, I will not be punished precisely in the 
same manner and to the same extent that I would 
were I to violate my obligations to my Creator. If a 
man violates his obligations to his Creator, he is not 
punished on earth and in the flesh ; he is permitted to 


pass on until the day of retribution has come. The 
punishment for such crimes will be inflicted on the 
spirit in eternity. But if he violates an obligation 
which he owes to himself, he suffers the penalty on 

It is a duty which every man owes to himself, to 
labor that he may gain a support honestly ; for it is 
written, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat 
bread, till thou return unto the ground." If a man 
neglects to discharge this obligation which he owes 
himself, he will be sure to suffer the penalty of his 
sin in the pangs of hunger and want. 

If he violates his obligations to society, he will 
suffer the penalty which the laws of society affix to 
such transgression. 

In all this we see but so many evidences of the 
truth of what is revealed to man in the Scriptures. 
We see no natural religion in it. 

The following commandment, " Thou shalt love the 
Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 
and with all thy might," was given to the children of 
Israel. If this commandment and others which were 
given them was violated, they were threatened with 
punishment on earth. They did violate the com- 
mandments, and suffered the punishment. Their lands 
were taken from them and given to strangers. 

There is an obligation, which we at the present owe 


to (rod, to fulfil this commandment. But no penalty 
to be inflicted on earth is attached to any violation of 
this commandment, of which we of the present age 
may be guilty. Then natural religion does not teach 
men to love God ; it does not teach the necessity of 
piety, because men are not punished on earth for a 
want of piety ; and if men are not punished on earth 
for a want of piety, how can we learn from natural 
religion that it is our duty to love God ? 

What kind of religion is that which does not teach 
its votaries to love God? to worship him, and him 
only ? to believe that he will reward his faithful ser- 
vants in a world to come, and punish those who do 
not obey him? "Pure religion and undefiled before 
God the Father, is this : to visit the fatherless and 
widows in their affliction, and to keep himself un- 
spotted from the world." (James i. 27.) 

If natural religion teaches any such doctrine as 
this, I am not able to discover it. As I understand 
the principles which are taught for natural religion, 
they would teach a man to avoid the widow and the 
orphan ; for if he visits them and beholds their dis- 
tress, he cannot help feeling grieved and unhappy ; 
and natural religion tells him that it is contrary to 
the will of God for him to do those acts which will 
make him feel pain. 

Natural religion would teach us to avoid those acts 



only as sins, which would cause present pain ; whilst 
those for which we might suffer eternally, are passed 
in silence. 

We will compare the lives of the Christian martyrs 
with the doctrines of natural religion, and see how 
they harmonize. According to the teaching of natural 
religion, that course of conduct is contrary to the will 
of God which causes a man to suffer most pain ; for 
which he is punished most in this life. 

I know of no mode of life for which men have 
suffered more pain, endured more hardship ; for which 
they have been beaten more with stripes, and tormented 
more in every way to produce the greatest amount of 
suffering, than they have for their fidelity to the 
Christian religion. 

I do not think any sensible man can say that the 
Christian martyrs lived in that manner which was 
calculated to produce most happiness in this world; 
for it is well known that they endured the most 
excruciating torments ; they suffered persecution, and 
were afflicted in various ways for many years ; indeed, 
we may say of many of them, that they thus suffered, 
during the whole course of their lives as Christians. 

Is there any Christian writer on moral philosophy 
who believes those holy men who suffered martyrdom 
for their fidelity to Christianity, were not obeying the 
will of God? Not one. But those men must have 


been disobeying the will of God, if natural religion 
teaches his will. 

See what natural religion teaches ; the natural 
religion of authors. " We are so made, that we are 
rendered unhappy, on the whole, by pursuing a course 
of conduct in some particular manner, or beyond a 
certain degree. This is an intimation of our Creator, 
respecting the manner and the degree in which he 
designs us to pursue that course of conduct." The 
martyrs were pursuing a course of conduct, which, on 
the whole, rendered them very unhappy in life ; their 
only hope of happiness was in the reward which they 
expected to receive hereafter. The same author whose 
natural religion teaches us that the martyrs lived in 
disobedience to the will of God, would, if asked the 
question, tell us that those holy men who suffered 
martyrdom for their zeal in religion, lived lives as 
obedient to the will of God, as it is possible for man 
to live. 

No moral philosopher doubts that the exemplary 
life of the apostle Paul, after he became a Christian, 
was in strict obedience to the will of God. Yet he 
did not pursue that course of conduct by which he 
would have received most happiness in this life ; but 
as soon as he knew his duty, he plunged into a career 
which caused him to pass through the hardest trials 
and greatest suffering that can be inflicted on a human 


being. Hear what he says of himself. " Of the Jews, 
five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice 
was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I 
suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in 
the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, 
in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, 
in perils by the brethren, in perils in the city, in perils 
in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among 
false brethren ; In weariness and painfulness, in watch- 
ings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in 
cold and nakedness." 

The life of the apostle Paul is directly opposite to 
the teachings of natural religion. Natural religion 
teaches us that those acts from which we receive most 
pleasure and least pain, in this life, are the acts which 
it pleases God for us to perform. But the life of the 
apostle teaches us that if we love God, and wish to 
obey him, we must suffer every manner of hardship 
for the Lord's sake. 

Paul had it in his power to live just such a life as 
natural religion teaches is in obedience to the will of 
God. If he had not become a Christian, he might have 
enjoyed every comfort and luxury which this world 
affords ; he might have enjoyed as much pleasure as 
man can enjoy on earth ; but he chose to suffer every 
manner of hardship for the Lord's sake. 

The life of our Saviour is a contradiction to the 


doctrines of natural religion. He did not seek to be 
happy on earth. He did not teach man to perform 
those acts only which will contribute most to his hap- 
piness on earth. He came into this world "a man 
of sorrows and acquainted with grief," and left this 
world after having suffered the ignominious death of 
the cross. 

Christ, in his sermon on the mount, says, Matt. v. 
44, "But, I say unto you, love your enemies, bless 
them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and 
pray for them which despitefully use you and perse- 
cute you." (V. 45,) " That ye may be the children of 
your Father which is in heaven : for he maketh his sun 
to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain 
on the just and on the unjust." It seems evident from 
what our Saviour has said in verse 45, and the subse- 
quent verses of the chapter, that he wished to indicate 
to his followers that God makes no distinction in his 
manner of treating men on earth ; that he is equally 
kind and beneficent both to the just and the unjust. 
He provides for the happiness of all alike, without 
making any distinction of persons. Such we are told, 
in the words of the Saviour himself, is the manner in 
which God treats his creatures on earth. 

Since God makes no distinction in this world 
between the just and the unjust, but provides alike for 
the happiness of the good and the evil, how are we to 


learn anything of his will by natural religion unaided 
by revelation ? Natural religion cannot be a means 
which God has provided to enable us to learn his will. 
"We learn God's will by revelation. We learn it from 
the Bible. Take that book away from man, and 
deprive him of all the information he has obtained 
from it — he is no longer a worshipper of the true God. 
He is only a barbarian, a worshipper of idols, a 
wanderer through a labyrinth of darkness and super- 

We by no means affirm that the Bible is the only 
source through which man has acquired a knowledge 
of the will of God ; for there was a time when no 
Bible existed, and. even then, man knew the will of 
God. He knew it by revelation, however, and not 
from what he saw before him in the world. 

Since the Bible was published to the world, we 
know of no other means that mankind have possessed 
of acquiring a correct knowledge of the will of God. 
Before this means of disclosing the will of God was 
published, man was instructed concerning the divine 
will orally. First, God talked to man and told him 
his will. Afterwards, he instructed him by sending to 
him his angels, and by inspiring his holy prophets 
with a knowledge of the word of truth. God never 
left man to be guided by instinct in acquiring a know- 
ledge of his will ; neither did he require him to gain 


such knowledge by an exertion of intellect alone, un- 
aided by revelation. No man who has faith in the 
authenticity of the Sacred Scriptures can believe that 
God did not take especial care to instruct mankind 
orally concerning his will, before the Bible was fur- 
nished him as a guide. 

The question may be asked, If the Bible is the only 
source from which man can derive a knowledge of the 
will of God, at the present day, how are the heathen, 
who have no Bible, to acquire a knowledge of God's 
will ? I answer, only by sending missionaries to 
them, who have a knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures, 
and who can impart their knowledge to those benighted 
people. Their horrid practices prove that they have 
no natural religion which can teach them correctly 
concerning the will of God ; and that their instinctive 
impulses are not able to do this. The only resource 
is, to teach them what we have learned of God's will 
from the Bible. 

Since all men are under obligation to obey the will 
of God, being, all of us, God's creatures, and since no 
man can rightly perforin the will of his Creator, 
without knowing what that will is, it becomes, in an 
especial manner, the duty of those who have a know- 
ledge of the will of God, to use their utmost efforts to 
instruct those who have not this knowledge. 

If we believe that "as many as have sinned without 


law, shall also perish without law," it is evidently our 
duty to exert ourselves in aiding those persons to 
obtain a knowledge of the law, who are now ignorant 
of it, and have not the necessary means of informing 





The Holy Bible, pertinently called the Booh, consists 
of two volumes, entitled the Old and the New Testa- 
ment. The Old Testament comprises a history of 
man from the creation to the birth of our Saviour; 
consisting of two eras ; from the creation of the world 
to the deluge, and from the deluge to the birth of 

In the earliest period of man's existence, we learn 
from the Old Testament, that God taught him orally. 
He conversed with him as a parent would with his 
child, and told him what he must do. He also taught 
him the history of his creation ; told him that He, God 
Almighty, had formed man of the dust of the earth ; 
that He had all power in Heaven and on earth, and 
that man must worship Him, and Him only, for He 
14 (157) 


will punish His people severely for a want of venera- 
tion and obedience to His will. 

Notwithstanding the care which this kind, wise, 
beneficent Father took of His little children, they 
were refractory and disobedient ; they were a " stiff- 
necked" race. They became so vile and degraded, 
that He destroyed them. He caused a deluge of waters, 
which swept them all from the face of the earth, 
except one obedient man, Noah, and his family, whom 
He saved in an ark, which He had caused Noah to 

Again the world was peopled by man, and God, 
the Father, continued to instruct His people concern- 
ing His will. 

As man progressed in learning, God changed His 
mode of teaching, at every period, suiting His instruc- 
tions to the capacity of those whom He taught. He 
not only instructed them with regard to His attributes, 
but gave them visible proofs of His goodness, mercy, 
justice, and power. He gave them water in the desert, 
and bread in the wilderness. He caused the waters 
of the Red Sea to open and allow the righteous to 
pass over on dry land ; He caused the briny waves to 
flow back and overwhelm their wicked pursuers. 

When man was sufficiently advanced in learning to 
be prepared for the reception of written laws, God 
wrote lawa for him on tables of stone. But as man 


advanced in learning, he did not proportionately 
progress in morality. God sent His Son into the 
world, who taught man the way of life eternal, and 
rekindled the spark of morality which seemed to be 
almost extinct. 

Man was now so far advanced in intellectual culture 
and moral knowledge, that God saw fit to give him 
his final instruction with regard to His will. He sent 
the meek and lowly Saviour on earth, who proved to 
man that a pure spirit cannot be made to err, though 
it dwells in the midst of corruptible flesh. 

'The Saviour came into the world, not to destroy, 
but to fulfil the law. Every act of His exemplary life 
is a model of perfection. Every act will serve as an 
example to man in ages yet to come. "Without any 
addition or correction, the guide will be sufficient till 
" The host of Heaven shall be dissolved, and the 
heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll." He 
taught man how to obey the will of God ; told him 
what he must do to be saved. 

From the Old Testament we learn that at first God 
taught man orally. He talked with him, told him 
who the Creator is, and what is his will for man 
to do. 

After the deluge, he gave him a code of written 
laws, few and plain, containing his will with regard 
to man, and when our Saviour came on earth, he 


showed man how to obey that will, and gave him an 
exposition of the will of God, which is sufficient in all 
future ages to enable him to serve God acceptably, 
without any further instruction from the great foun- 
tain of all knowledge. Those instructions are written 
in a book, so that man can read and acquire from that 
source, all the knowledge of God which has ever 
been revealed. 

From that source he can always, hereafter, learn 
his duty. He can therein learn the history of his 
creation, his duties, and his final destiny. What 
more can he need ? He is now fully prepared to dis- 
charge his duties, if he desires to do so, without 
further parental instruction. Yet, his Father in 
Heaven still watches over him with parental solici- 
tude, and more than parental affection. 

You perceive, by this hasty view of the Holy Bible, 
that God has from the beginning dealt with man as a 
good father treats his children. When our child is 
yet young, we can instruct it only by talking to it. 
We teach it the first lessons in morality, before it has 
yet learned to read. We tell it of the existence, and the 
attributes of the great God, the Creator of the world, 
and all things that are in it. When our child has 
learned to read, we instruct it more fully concerning 
the will of God, and our obligations to him. When 
the child has become a man, we have endeavored so 


to store his mind with useful knowledge, that he will 
be able to go forth in the world, and discharge his 
duties faithfully without further parental care. In a 
manner similar to this, our Creator has dealt with 

At the creation of the world, man, with regard to 
knowledge, was in his infancy. He is a progressive 
being by nature ; as he grew older he became wiser, 
and during the whole of the time when the race of 
man was growing up from its infancy to maturity, 
God watched over it with parental solicitude, instruct- 
ing him more, as his ability to receive more instruction 
was developed. 

The Old Testament contains a history of the man- 
ner in which God instructed man, from his creation 
to the flood, and from the flood to the birth of Christ. 
It contains a number of prophecies ; the Avritings of 
good and virtuous men ; and the laws which God gave 
to the children of Israel. For a fulfilment of these 
laws, God promised them a rich inheritance on earth. 
He promised to give them the land beyond the 
Jordan, which was called a land flowing with milk 
and honey. 

They were sufficiently virtuous and obedient to 

the will of the living; God to receive the inheritance 

promised, and they became a powerful and wealthy 

nation of people; but in time, they became dis- 

14* L 


obedient and regardless of the will of God, who had 
given them abundant proof of his watchful care over 

He warned them of the punishment which would 
surely fall upon them, if they continued in their dis- 
obedience. They turned a deaf ear to these warnings, 
and they suffered the penalty of their disobedience. 

They were driven from the rich inheritance which 
God had given them ; their lands were occupied by 
strangers, and they were taken into captivity and 
made to serve their conquerors. Thus God convinced 
incredulous man, by rewards which he bestowed on 
him when he was obedient and punishments inflicted 
for disobedience, that he is God omnipotent, just, and 
true. Thus he taught man to have faith in the 
promises of his Creator, and to believe that God 
cannot lie. 

Concerning the treatment of the Israelites, the fol- 
lowing is the absurd conclusion to which a belief in 
the reality and authoritativeness of natural religion 
has led writers on moral philosophy. " God, in 
various modes suited to their condition, made known 
his will to the whole human race. They all, with the 
exception of a single family, became so corrupt that 
he destroyed them by a general deluge. He then 
selected a single family, and gave them his written 
law, and, by peculiar enactments, secluded them from 


all other nations, that the experiment might be made 
under the most favorable circumstances. At the same 
time, the effects of natural religion were tried among 
the heathen, nations that surrounded them. The 
result was a clear demonstration that, under the con- 
ditions of being in which man was created, any 
reformation was hopeless, and that, unless some other 
conditions were revealed, the race would perish by its 
own vicious and anti-social tendencies, and enter the 
other world to reap the reward of its guilt for ever." — 
Wayland. The italics are ours. 

Such sentiments as Dr. "Way land has here expressed, 
place the omniscient God, whom we worship as being 
possessed of all knowledge, in a very unpleasant and 
doubting position. It would appear, that God did not 
know what was best for man ; that man is a creature 
so perverse and ungovernable, even the Almighty 
God did not know how to rule over him ; that He 
had to try various experiments with this indomitable 
creature man, to learn which was the best plan for 
governing him. 

Why cannot men be contented with the plain teach- 
ing of the Sacred Scriptures, and not allow themselves 
to entertain notions which are so irreverent and in- 
compatible with the character of the Deity? If phi- 
losophy teaches men such opinions, they had far better 


burn their books and read the Bible. Such philoso- 
phy robs the Deity of His attributes. 

If I mistake not, the sole object of the actions which 
God performed towards man, as recorded in the Old 
Testament, was to teach man to know the will of God, 
and to worship him and him only, the true and living 
God. To accomplish this object God, in his infinite 
wisdom, chose to pursue the plan which is recorded 
in the Old Testament. 

What better plan can philosophers devise, or what 
objections can reason offer to this plan ? If I may 
take the liberty of offering an opinion about it, I would 
say that the manner in which God led man on, step by 
step, from age to age, corresponds precisely with the 
manner in which all the creation around us approaches 
by degrees to perfection. And the bringing of man 
to that degree of knowledge which prepared him for 
the reception of a Saviour, was a portion of the plan 
which God had for preparing the human race to per- 
form the great objects for which we are created. As 
for the manner in which the Jews were treated, this 
ought to be no stumbling block to any Christian, for 
the Jews occupied the same position with reference 
to God and mankind that the Christians now hold. 
They were God's chosen people, because they were 
the only people in the world who were endeavoring to 
perform His will. The Christians are His chosen 


people now, because they endeavor to live according 
to His will. I think we may safely say that, at any 
age of the world, those people will be God's chosen 
people who are most faithful and obedient to His will. 

I cannot, for a moment, believe thut God was in the 
unpleasant dilemma in which Dr. Wayland seems to 
have imagined Him. 

If we examine the objects of interest around us 
with which creation teems, we will perceive, even with 
the small amount of knowledge which we possess, that 
there is a beautiful and wonderful consistency in the 
manner of God's revealing himself to man, and the 
manner in which every part of His creation approaches 
the degree of perfection which he designed it should 

The majestic oak requires several hundred years to 
pass through the different changes which are necessary, 
from the small kernel enclosed within the shell of an 
acorn, to produce the towering tree which extends its 
guardian branches over the surrounding forest. The 
little rivulet issues from the foot of a mountain ; it 
winds along through shaded and sequestered spots ; 
it meets other rivulets in its course, and, finally, after 
traversing many weary miles, emerges in the broad, 
deep river. 

In the animal and vegetable kingdoms the most 
heedless observer will perceive that this is a universal 


rule, that nothing is at its highest perfection when 
first ushered into existence ; and that the laws of 
creation are such that, step by step, in obedience to 
these laws, it arrives at the maximum degree of perfec- 
tion which God designed it to attain. Similar to this 
is the plan revealed in the Old Testament, by which 
man was instructed and led on to a more thorough 
knowledge of the attributes and will of God. 

In the Old Testament, we learn that God promised 
the Israelites rewards on earth for obedience to His 
will, and punishment for disobedience. By thus 
bringing the rewards and punishment before the 
people on earth, the evidence was irresistible even to 
the most incredulous of beings, that God had all the 
power, goodness, and justice which he had taught men 
to believe he possessed ; that he was surely the great 
God, the Creator of the universe. The nations around 
would observe the prosperity of the Jews when they 
worshipped the living God, and their suffering when 
they were disobedient, and, by this means, all would 
acquire a knowledge of the Deity. The rest of man- 
kind would have an opportunity of contrasting their 
condition with that of the Jews, and, by observing 
the miraculous favors which God bestowed on them, 
be induced to exclaim, Great is the God of the Jews ! 

The following appears to be the chief design of the 
Old Testament : — To instruct man concerning the will 


of God ; to give him a law by which, he should govern 
his actions ; and to prove to him that he who gave 
those laws is the Creator and Euler of the universe. 

The utility of the Old Testament to man, at the 
present age, seems chiefly to consist in furnishing 
proofs of the authenticity of the New, and in giving 
a history of the dealings of God with man from the 
creation of the world to the coming of Christ. 

It is true that the moral precepts contained in the 
Old Testament are binding on all men in every age 
of the world, and the laws which were written by the 
finger of God amid the flames of Sinai's glowing sum- 
mit are immutable. But the same laws and the same 
moral precepts are inculcated in the New Testament, 
with a full explanation of the manner in which man 
should practise and obey them during the remaining 
ages of the world. 

There are many commands in the Old Testament 
which the present generation are not required to obey, 
simply because they were not designed for tbe present 
generation; whilst all the commands of the New 
Testament are binding on the present and future 
generations. This fact renders it necessary for us to 
use some discrimination and judgment in learning our 
duties from the Bible. We should not consider our- 
selves under obligation to perform a command which 
God required Abraham alone to perform, any more 


than we should consider ourselves under obligation to 
lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, because He 
commanded Moses to do so. 

In learning our duty from the Sacred Scriptures we 
should observe whether the command is to mankind, 
or only to a particular nation or individual. If the 
command is general in its nature, we may be satisfied 
that it applies to ourselves as well as to others ; but if 
it be addressed to a particular individual, it is not 

for us. 

Much of the Bible, particularly of the Old Testa- 
ment, is merely historical ; giving a history of the 
actions of men, and the connection of God with man. 
The Old Testament, besides being historical, contains 
the commands of God to certain individuals ; it con- 
tains the moral law, and moral precepts. 

Christ came on earth to fulfil the law. The spirit 
which animated the body of flesh that was called the 
Son of Man possessed the purity of God ; his actions 
were directed by the wisdom of God, and in his deeds 
he exhibited the power of God ; he was the Son of 
God. His life is a perfect model for all men in every 
age. He possessed the same feelings and passions 
that are common to, and inseparable from the flesh. 
He resisted every temptation to do evil, with which 
one possessed of fleshly propensities could be tried, 
and resolutely did the will of his Father in Heaven. 


We should do so likewise. His example to man is 

If an angel had come on earth and acted with the 
purity of motives and unshaken fidelity to the will of 
God that our Saviour exhibited, we might reasonably 
have said that it was nothing strange for a pure 
spirit to do right ; but let that spirit be swayed to 
and fro by the fiery passions which appertain to the 
flesh, let it be teased continually by ungratified 
desires, and see if it will not sometimes err. In 
Christ we had an example of a being just so consti- 
tuted. He came into the world a man acquainted 
with sorrow and with grief; he felt and shunned every 
temptation to do evil ; he made the will of God the 
rule of his actions. 

When his soul was suffering exceedingly great 
agony, in view of the bitter cup which he must drink 
to the very dregs, he prayed, " 0, my Father, if it be 
possible, let this cup pass from me ; nevertheless, not 
as I will, but as thou wilt." Again he prayed, the 
second time, saying, " 0, my Father, if this cup may 
not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be 

Such is the forcible manner in which he has taught 
us to practise obedience to the will of God. The 
teachings of Christ are of that general nature that 
they apply to all mankind ; his sermon on the mount 


breathes a spirit of holiness which is sublimely pure ; 
yet who is so stupid that he cannot comprehend the 
meaning of every precept, of every word which it 
contains ? No one needs ask for the wisdom of Solo- 
mon to enable him to comprehend the actions and 
teachings of Christ, or to learn his duty from the New 
Testament. Our duty is not given there in myste- 
rious and incomprehensible language. The way of 
holiness is such that "The wayfaring men, though 
fools, shall not err therein." 

It is not the difficulty of acquiring a knowledge of 
our duty from the Sacred Scriptures which calls for a 
few hints with regard to the manner of proceeding to 
study the Bible with a view of learning our duty from 
it; but the veil of mystery which has been thrown 
around the Bible by injudicious writers, is difficult to 
see through. 

Men may take a sentence from the Scriptures and 
found an erroneous doctrine upon it. Detached por- 
tions may be read and construed in a manner very 
different from their true import. What book, or 
what printed page, is there in existence, which does 
not contain a single line which may not, if taken out 
from the connection in which it is placed, be con- 
strued in such a manner as to make it signify some- 
thing quite different from what was intended ? 

Many false doctrines may have originated in the 


culpable practice of taking a part of the will of God 
for your rule of action, and finishing the rule with a 
part of your own will. And no matter how false a 
theory may be, by taking some Scriptural phrase as 
an evidence of its correctness, a skilful sophist may 
■ make it appear very plausible, and cause many to 
believe that it is true. 

If you would know the whole will of Grod, then, 
study the Bible. It contains all that He wishes man 
to do. And in studying the Bible with a view of 
learning our duty from it, it is evident that we should 
not read detached portions ; a verse in one part of the 
book, a chapter in another, and so on. By so doing, 
we do not have a correct and comprehensive view of 
the Scriptures. We may learn many things that are 
contained in the Bible, but cannot arrange our learn- 
ing so as to make it useful ; we are apt to become 
confused, and not understand anything correctly and 

If you wish to acquire a knowledge of the grammar 
of your language, you do not begin at the conjugation 
of the verb, and go from thence to the comparison of 
adjectives, and then to the declension of nouns ; you 
do not endeavor to learn the abstruse portions of a 
science before you have acquired a knowledge of the 
rudiments ; you would not attempt to calculate the 
distances of the stars from the earth, and determine 


their magnitudes, or to predict the return of a comet, 
before you had learned the first principles of mathe- 
matics. Neither ought you to expect to fully com- 
prehend the Bible by reading the epistles of Paul, or 
the Acts of the Apostles. 

I think the best and most correct mode of learning 
our duty from the Bible, is to begin at the commence- 
ment of the Book, and read it regularly through, as 
we would read any other book ; studying maturely 
every portion, and endeavoring to treasure up, in the 
storehouse of memory, all of its precepts. I think 
that no one of a sound mind, who will pursue this 
plan, will say, when he has finished the study of those 
sacred pages, that he is still ignorant of his duty to 

Every one who goes to the Bible to learn his duty, 
ought to endeavor to divest himself of all preconceived 
notions which are the offspring of doctrinal lore, and 
believe that only to be his duty, which he finds taught 
in the Book before him. If our minds are pre-occupied 
with certain tenets, we are too apt to try to bend the 
Gospel truths, so as to cause them to harmonize with 
the ideas which already exist in our minds. This 
ought not to be done, and must not, if we wish to 
learn correctly what is our whole duty. 

The instructions in the New Testament are evidently 
intended for the whole human race, in all future ages, 


and in every nation of the world. It is a final revela- 
tion of the will of God to man, and contains all the 
moral precepts, and everything else that is important 
to our salvation. It furnishes to man, an example of 
perfection in morality. This perfection was exhibited 
in the person of Christ. 

It contains the Acts of the Apostles, from which we 
can gain much useful information. But we should 
not consider ourselves under obligation to perform 
any act herein recorded, simply because the apostles 
or other righteous men did so ; we should inquire 
whether it is commanded that we shall do likewise, 
before we determine that we are under obligation to 
do so. 

Any act which the Apostles performed subsequent 
to receiving the Holy Spirit, may be allowable ; but it 
is not obligatory on us, unless wc are commanded to 
do likewise. 

The example of inspired men proves the lawfulness 
of an act, unless exception be made, but does by no 
means establish the necessity to perform the act. For 
example, the Apostles kept the feast of Pentecost ; 
Paul circumcised Timothy ; and the congregation of 
Christians at Jerusalem, kept all their property in 
common, no one having anything he could call his own. 
We are not, at the present day, under obligation to do 


any of these things. These are acts which Christians 
are not commanded to do. 

Having made a few remarks concerning the Bible, 
and the manner of learning our duty from it, we will 
proceed to consider various requirements which are 
therein made of man, and which may be classed under 
the general head of duties. 

When we speak of learning our duty from the 
Bible, we mean our whole duty ; that is, all our obliga- 
tions to God, to our fellow-creatures, and to ourselves. 
But every act which we are under obligation to per- 
form, may, in itself considered, be properly called a 



Of all the duties which man owes either to his 
fellow-man, or to his Creator, the first and greatest is 
love to God. He it is who has placed us in this beau- 
tiful world, and surrounded us with every means of 
enjoyment which we possess. He it is who has given 
us eyes, that we may behold the many beautiful things 
with which he has surrounded us ; ears, that we may 


hear the music which is wafted by his designing upon 
every breeze. He it is who has given us taste, that 
we rnay enjoy the sweets with which his creation 
teems. He it is who has given us the sense of smell, 
that we may enjoy the pleasant odors arising from the 
fragrant flowers, which he causes to blow. And above 
all this, it is he who has given us a soul which can 
enjoy and appreciate the loveliness, beauty, and 
sublimity of his creation; a mind, which is capable 
of acquiring knowledge, of comprehending his will, 
and directing our actions in obedience thereto. 

It is to God that we are indebted for our daily 
bread ; for the food which we eat ; for the air we 
breathe; for every comfort which we enjoy, and for 
our very existence. He it is, who preserves our 
existence, who has provided the means of gratifying 
our wants, and to whom we are daily and hourly 
indebted for the accumulation of favors which we 
receive at his hands. 

Ought we not to love a being who loves us so 
much ? who has surrounded us with every blessing 
that the heart can desire? who watches over us with 
the tender care of a Father, and loves us with more 
than parental affection ? Ought we not to love God 
who thus loves us, and extends to us the loving-kind- 
ness of an affectionate Father, without our having 
done anything to deserve this affection, and without 


our being in any way able to return the kind favors 
which he is continually bestowing upon us ? There 
is not the remotest possibility of our doing anything 
in return for the many good gifts which we receive 
from God. His love for us is purely disinterested; 
there can be no motive urging him to perform kind 
acts to his creatures, such as too often blemish the 
good deeds which men perform. Such love from him 
calls for a corresponding emotion in us. 

To love those who love us, is a principle which 
seems to exist in the mind of every human being, in 
a greater or less degree, in proportion to each one's 
susceptibility of the influence of tender emotions. It 
is natural for us to love those who love us. "We can- 
not regard that person with any other than, feelings 
of kindness, who is willing and anxious to promote 
our welfare. We very naturally become devotedly 
attached to one who under all circumstances is inva- 
riable in his love for us, and who though he may be 
offended and grieved when we behave badly, never 
ceases to love us, and endeavor to promote our wel- 
fare. Love is the feeling which such unwavering 
devotion to our welfare excites in us, when a human 
being thus loves us. Upon this same principle we 
ought to love, yes, adore our God. He is universally 
kind to us, his creatures. His goodness and mercy 
are continually bringing us under renewed obligations 


of gratitude, and in all his acts he shows to man, that 
love is an attribute of the Deity. We daily receive 
new evidences in proof of this truth, viz., " God is 
love." (1 John iv. 19.) "We love him because he 
first loved us." 

God has given man a higher, a holier proof of his 
affection than that which we behold in those things 
which refer to temporal blessings only. He offers 
man happiness ; happiness which shall last through 
vast, incomprehensible eternity. And his great love 
for us has induced him to do so. (John iii. 16.) "For 
God so loved the world, that he gave his only begot- 
ten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not 
perish, but have everlasting life." 

Love and fear seem to be ruling passions in the 
human mind, each has great force in causing obedi- 
ence to authority ; but that obedience which proceeds 
from love, is the kind of obedience which those in 
authority are most pleased to receive. 

Man has much cause to fear the anger of God who 
is just ; and he who loves not God has good reason to 
fear. But, in proportion as the goodness of God 
becomes more and more fixed in a man's belief, love 
predominates over fear in feelings towards his Creator. 

The man who loves God fears not, " When the Son 
of man shall come in his glory," that the awful sen- 
tence, " Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting 



fire prepared for the devil and his angels," will be 
pronounced against him ; but he rejoices in the hope 
that our Saviour will say unto him, "Come, ye blessed 
of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you 
from the foundation of the world." 1 John iv. 18, 
" There is no fear in love ; but perfect love casteth out 
fear : because fear hath torment. He that feareth is 
not made perfect in love." 

All the qualities which men admire most exist in 
their perfection in the Creator only. All those quali- 
ties, any one of which being exhibited in some degree 
of perfection in the life and actions of a human being, 
will elicit our admiration, honor, and love of the indi- 
vidual whose characters it makes lovely ; all are attri- 
butes of God, all emanate from him, the fountain of 
all good, and to him we should be grateful for the 
manifestation of those admirable qualities which adorn 
the characters of good men. In him are united jus- 
tice, mercy, a readiness to forgive offences, benevo- 
lence, truth, and holiness. 

All men love justice ; it is this quality that they 
seek for in their judges and rulers. An unjust ruler 
cannot gain the favor of his people ; they cannot love 
him. Prov. xx. 7, "The just man walketh in his in- 
tegrity; his children are blessed after him." One of 
the most honorable titles that has ever been conferred 
on man by his fellow-creatures is the title which the 


sountrymen of Aristides conferred upon him. He 
gained the confidence and love of the people by his 
justice, and they, in attestation of their love for the 
man and confidence in his integrity, called him " The 
Just." But not the countrymen of Aristides only love 
and admire him for his justice; all men who have 
become acquainted with his history have admired his 
character, and so long as his name adorns the pages 
of history, the character of "The Just" will be 
admired and esteemed by men. 

If justice, as it is imperfectly exhibited in the lives 
of men, excites our admiration and love of the indivi- 
dual, ought we not much more to love God who is 
perfectly just ? 

Men love truthfulness. They admire him who 
always tells the truth, but cannot respect him on 
whose word they cannot rely. God cannot lie. "God 
is not a man, that he should lie." 

We love wisdom ; we love those who possess it, and 
not only willingly obey the instructions of the wise, 
but seek information from them, how we shall govern 
our own actions. Behold the wisdom of God. It is 
in his works only that you see a display of perfected 
wisdom. In the bright orbs that deck the skies ; in 
the vast worlds revolving through the immensity of 
space; in the perfect adaptation of the animal portion 
of creation, to the peculiar soil and climate in which 


each species is found; in the grandest and most magni- 
ficent parts of creation ; and even in the tenderest 
sprig of grass, we behold a display of the most con- 
summate wisdom. Prov. iii. 19, " The Lord by wis- 
dom hath founded the earth ; by understanding hath 
he established the heavens." 

In the works of God alone wisdom has its perfect 
work. To man the simplest portions of this vast 
creation appear wonderful. The vitality, conforma- 
tion, and habits of the smallest insects ; the growth of 
herbs, and every portion of creation, excites our won- 
der and admiration. Man seems to himself a work of 
exceeding wonder. 

In obedience to that principle in the character of 
man, which causes him to love those who are wise, 
and seek to be guided by them, we ought to love God, 
for he alone has perfect wisdom ; he alone is omnis- 
cient ; and we ought also to seek to learn his will, that 
our actions may be guided by the wisest Being in 

"We love mercy, we admire and esteem the man 
whose actions show that he possesses a merciful heart, 
and we love those who are disposed to be merciful 
to us. In our relation to God, we all need mercy, we 
must all ask for forgiveness of sins, for we all do err. 
It is a great comfort, then, to us to know that God is 
merciful and readv to forgive. 


We are all under obligations to serve God. Oar 
service to him is an essential right which he, as our 
Creator, demands of us, his creatures. 

This right, and the corresponding obligation, have 
respect to two classes of duties. First, those which 
are comprised in our relations to God, and which we 
owe to him only ; duties which each one of us ought 
to perform if there were no other creature in existence 
besides ourselves. Pre-eminent among these duties is 
love to God. Secondly, the duties which he requires 
of us towards our fellow-creatures. Every creature is 
a creature of God, and he has made the duties which 
we owe to each other a part of the duties we owe to 
him. He demands of us the performance of certain 
duties, in which the welfare and happiness of indivi- 
duals is comprised. These are strictly duties which 
we owe to each other ; but since it is the will of God 
that we should perform them, to do so is as much a 
duty to him as to our fellow-creatures. So that, if 
we love God, we will perform our duties, not only to 
him but to all his creatures. " Love worketh no ill 
to his neighbor ; therefore love is the fulfilling of 
the law." 

With feelings of pleasure we do the will of those 
whom we love. We seek to learn their will, to know 
what will please them, that we may be able to contri- 
bute to their happiness. It makes us happy to know 


that they are pleased, especially if their pleasure 
arises from the acts which we perform. No labor is 
burdensome to us, if we derive happiness from the 
performance of it. No duty is onerous if we derive 
pleasure from discharging it. To love God, then, 
comprises our present and future happiness. For, 
unless we love God, we cannot be happy in eternity. 
He cannot welcome us to the mansion prepared for 
the righteous. If we do not love him, we can derive 
no pleasure from performing the many duties which 
we owe to him. But if we love him, it is a pleasure 
to perform the duties which we owe to him ; it is a 
pleasure to learn his will, to know what he would be 
pleased to see us perform, and to do those things 
which he commands. 

Man is a creature having a will of his own, and he 
can derive but little happiness in the performance of 
acts not in accordance with his own will. To be truly 
happy in obeying the will of God, it must be his will 
to perform the acts which God commands. He must 
love God, or he cannot be happy in obeying him ; his 
will cannot accord with the will of his Creator. 

The Scriptural precepts concerning our love to God 
are recorded in various passages. Our duty in this 
respect is thus expressed: Luke x. 27, "Thou shalt 
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all 


thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy 
mind, and thy neighbor as thyself." 

When we consider that all the qualities which we 
admire exist in our Creator in perfection, we behold 
in him a being who alone possesses the character that 
we should love with all our hearts, with all our 
strength, with all our minds. He alone possesses all 
the qualities that we admire, and none of those which 
men disapprove. 

When the command, "Thou love the Lord 
thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and 
with all thy might," was given to the Israelites, the 
nations of the earth were ignorant of the true God ; 
they worshipped idols, and various things, humbling 
and degrading themselves in the sight of God. He 
forbids idolatry ; he requires that his creatures shall 
worship him only. The command, " Thou shalt love 
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy 
soul, and with all thy might," excludes every species 
of idolatry. We cannot obey this command and at 
the same time gratify our desires, in opposition to 
God's. By it, his will becomes the rule of our actions. 
In the sixth verse of the second epistle of John, our 
obedience to the commandments of God, is said to be 
a test of our love to him : " This is love, that we walk 
after his commandments." 

If we possess that desire to obey the will of God 


which arises from a recognition of the universal right 
of the Creator over us, we will dedicate our affections 
to him; we shall not only do his will, but be happy 
in performing it. If we love God, we shall love to do 
his will. 

There are three kinds of power which God exhibits 
to man, and which are exercised by him in the highest 
degree that the mind can imagine. These are physical 
power, mental power, and moral power. 

God exhibits his physical power in the creation of 
the immense masses of the universe ; in the launching 
of vast worlds into their appointed places in space, 
and causing them to revolve there through unnum- 
bered ages, without ever wandering from the path 
which he designed they should follow. He exhibits 
mental power in all the beautiful and useful works 
of his creation; and especially does he exhibit this 
power in the fitness of every part of creation to per- 
form the work which he has allotted it, and the un- 
erring certainty with which every part of creation 
moves on in its appointed course. He exhibits 
moral power in a sublime degree, in his goodness 
and parental affection for all his creatures. 

There is but one of those different kinds of power 
which is calculated to excite the feelings of love in 
our hearts ; and that is moral power. A man may be 
strong, and able to bind, and force us to do his will. 


But he could not, by any effort of physical power, 
compel us to love him. He might, by exercising 
physical force, excite in our mind a feeling of fear; 
but never that of love. Our fear would cause us to 
obey him, but that obedience would be unwillingly 
rendered ; it would be of the nature of eye-service, 
such service as God will not receive from his creatures. 
Grod could, by an exercise of his physical power, com- 
pel every human being to perform his will with as 
much certainty as vegetation springs up at its ap- 
pointed seasons. But he does not choose to exert 
this power for the purpose of causing man to obey 
him. It is his will that our love should impel us to 
obedience. He has not so created us that an exercise 
of physical power can excite the feeling of love in our 
hearts ; therefore, he does not exercise that power to 
cause us to perform his will. 

Mental power has great force in effecting the objects 
which we would accomplish by it ; but it, like physical 
power, cannot cause love to spring up in the heart. 
Mental power can excite, in a high degree, a feeling 
of admiration ; but admiration can exist in the mind 
without love. If we know that our neighbor is wiser 
than ourselves, we admire him for his knowledge, and 
may be willing to be directed by his counsel, because 
we think he knows better what is right than we do : 
but it is possible for us to be directed by one who is 
10 * 


wiser than we are, and at the same time entertain a 
feeling of dislike for him whom we obey. Our learn- 
ing may be great, our mental powers unsurpassed; 
and still, the majority of those who are inferior to us 
in wisdom, may dislike us. Mental power alone can- 
not influence the heart. It is not the power which 
excites the feeling of love. It is moral power alone, 
that can arouse this feeling in the human breast. 

We do not love our parents because they have 
power to compel us to obey them ; we do not love 
them because they have more physical power than 
we, for we may grow up to be strong men, when they 
have become feeble and decrepit from old age ; our 
physical power would then be greater than theirs, 
still our parental affection would be as great as ever. 
This change in physical force, would work no change 
in our feelings. Our love for our parents was not 
excited by physical force, consequently a loss of that 
power can produce no change in our affections. For a 
similar reason, it is evident that the love we feel for our 
parents, is not produced in us by their superior mental 
power. For although when we are young, they have 
much more mental power than we, yet, as we grow up 
under their care, it so happens, frequently, that our 
mental power is superior to theirs ; this produces no 
abatement of our love for them ; consequently that 


feeling could not have been produced by an exertion 
of mental power. 

It is the power of goodness and benevolence, that 
excites love in the human breast. We love our 
parents because they first loved us. We see that 
every exertion of their power is for our good, and 
although our frowardness may make it necessary for 
them at times to use severe means to compel us to 
discharge our duty, still this coercion to duty does 
not check our love for them, because we soon learn 
that it is their love for us, which prompts them to use 
some degree of severity. We know that they love 
us, and therefore we must love them. Upon this 
same principle our Father in Heaven claims our love. 
He first loved us. He has proved his love by so 
many unmistakable evidences, that we must be heart- 
less children indeed if we do not love him. 

We are told that the Gospel is the power of God 
unto salvation. What kind of power is this which 
God uses for our salvation ? It is not physical power. 
He does not, with a strong arm, force us to obey his 
will. It is not the mental power which the Gospel 
displays, that captivates the affections of man, and 
induces him to avoid evil, and do that which is good ; 
but it is the moral power which the Gospel exerts, 
that leads man to do those things which are required, 
that he may be saved. 




Gratitude is a feeling of the heart, or an emotion 
of the mind, which can be cultivated most successfully 
by exercising it on every occasion which is presented. 

It arises from a proper appreciation of the favors 
which others confer on us. It consists in real un- 
affected thankfulness for the benefits we receive. 

We prove our gratitude to men, by being ready 
and willing to do favors for those who have befriended 
us, whenever an opportunity offers. "We can almost 
always find some opportunity of displaying our grati- 
tude to our benefactor, in deeds of kindness to him. 
If we are truly grateful, we will be almost sure to find 
an occasion on which our services will be of great 
advantage to our benefactor, if he is a man. But 
there is one Being from whom we are continually 
receiving benefits, for which we ought to be thankful, 
but on whom we can confer no favor. That Being is 
our Creator. An occasion never offers, during our 
existence, in which we can confer the least favor on 
him. Therefore we cannot directly prove our grati- 
tude for the favors which he is continually bestowing I 
on us. 


"We can express our thankfulness in prayer, but we 
■ cannot, by any act of ours, do a favor for our Creator. 
; We can feel grateful, and can express our feeling in 
words, but bow are we to prove by deeds that this 
i feeling does really exist in our heart? A means of 
, offering this proof has been furnished us by our 
Saviour. He has taught us, if we will be kind and 
benevolent to such of our own species as need our 
assistance, he will consider our kindness to this needy 
one as a favor done to him. This is taught in Matt, 
xxv. 34-40 ; " Then shall the King say unto them on 
his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit 
the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of 
the world : For I was a hungered, and ye gave me 
meat ; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink ; I was a 
stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed 
me ; I was sick, and ye visited me ; I was in prison, 
and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous 
answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee a 
hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee 
drink ? * * * And the King shall answer, and say 
unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have 
done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye 
have done it unto me." It is by such deeds of kind- 
ness to our fellow-beings, that we are able to prove 
our gratitude to God. How beautiful is the arrange- 
ment ! How pleasant it is to know that whenever we 


perform a benevolent act, we discharge part of the 
debt of gratitude we owe to our Creator ! How 
anxiously we should watch every opportunity to assist 
the needy, and with what regret should we allow a 
single opportunity to pass, of alleviating the distress 
of a suffering individual ! For every occasion of this 
kind which offers, is an opportunity of discharging 
some part of the debt of gratitude which we owe to 

We should all, like the benevolent Howard, be on 
the watch for an opportunity to alleviate the distress of 
our fellow-beings. I do not mean that we should 
pursue precisely the same course which Howard did, 
but that each individual should do all in his power, 
all that he can consistently with his means or ability, 
to alleviate the sufferings of others. 

After we have done all that it is in the power of 
man to do in performing acts of benevolence, our debt 
of gratitude still remains unsettled. Even if it were 
possible for us, in this way, fully to discharge the 
debt of gratitude which we owe to our Creator; if, 
when we appeared before him, we were able truly to 
say that our debt of gratitude was fully paid — a new 
debt would immediately arise ; for our Creator would 
reward us for the good deeds we had done. 

Since our Creator is thus beneficent, it is evident 
we should love the Lord our God with all our heart. 


He requires us to do this. The feeling of gratitude 
must exist in the heart of man, if love to God is there. 
Without gratitude, a man would become a degenerate 
being. His first step in morality cannot be taken 
without feeling grateful. He would not thank Grod 
for the many blessings he continually receives, if the 
feeling of gratitude did not exist in his heart. 

In our dealing with our fellow-man, it often happens 
that all the return they expect for favors which they 
have conferred on us, is that we shall be grateful ; 
that we shall have the kind feeling for them, which 
their acts would naturally excite in a grateful heart. 

When this feeling is wanting, when a man treats 
his benefactor as does the viper which is warmed in 
your bosom, the growth of benevolence is suddenly 
checked. The benefactor feels no longer a desire to 
assist such a being; he feels that he has cast "pearls 
before swine." Frequent disappointments of this kind, 
in which the benefactor can discern no marks of grati- 
tude in those whom he has befriended, will have a 
tendency to crush the feelings of benevolence in his 
heart, and lower the good opinion he has of his fellow- 

There are men, in whose hearts true philanthropy 
glows as a genial flame which is ready to warm the 
frigid limbs of those who suffer from want and neglect. 


It is lamentable to see this feeling crushed in the 
bosom of a generous man, by heartless ingratitude. 

It is in the nature of man for us to love those who 
love us. When any one is uniformly kind to us, will 
bear with our infirmities, weep when we weep, and 
rejoice when we rejoice, we cannot help feeling grate- 
ful to that individual for the kindness he shows for 
us ; and this feeling of gratitude soon begets in us a 
corresponding feeling of love. 

Gratitude causes us to feel under obligation to those 
who have befriended us, and creates in us a desire to 
do any reasonable service for our benefactor. But it 
does not require us to do any act, to please our 
benefactor, which is morally wrong. We are under 
previous obligation not to do this ; and no favor that 
an individual can perform for us, can discharge us 
from this obligation. That no obligation can arise 
which will make it our duty to do wrong, is self-evident. 

PRAYER. 193 



In the earliest ages of the world God conversed 
with men ; they enjoyed then the happy privilege of 
hearing; the voice of God, of learning his will from 
his own mouth, and of expressing their thoughts and 
desires to him in person. God does not now present 
himself to us as a being to whom we can speak face 
to face. Still, we are not deprived of the happy pri- 
vilege of laying our hearts open to him, and asking 
of him all things that we need. 

We conceive him as an Intelligence, producing, 
upholding, pervading, seeing, knowing, and judging 
all things. He created and continually preserves us. 
"In him we live and move and have our being;" he 
is not far from every one of us. God hears our 
prayers; he knows the thoughts as they exist in our 
minds. In pra} r er alone can we approach near unto 
him, and commune with him as with our Father; in 
prayer we are taught to address him as our Father 
who is in heaven. 

In prayer the spirit of man holds direct intercourse 
with the spiritual and unseen Creator. "God is a 
17 X 


spirit, and those that worship him must worship him 
in spirit and in truth." 

In prayer we express our adoration, we offer up our 
thanksgivings, we ask for favors both temporal and 
spiritual, we confess our sins, and ask forgiveness. 

There are many forms of prayer recorded in the 
Scriptures ; we find there many prayers of good men, 
in which temporal as well as spiritual blessings are 
asked of God. We also find recorded the promise of 
God to grant temporal blessings to his people, if they 
would ask it in prayer, and turn from their wicked 
ways. 2 Chron. vii. 13, 14, "If I shut up heaven 
that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to 
devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my 
people ; if my people, which are called by my name, 
shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, 
and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from 
heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their 

There is but one form of prayer that Christians are 
taught to use ; it appears that they are not required to 
repeat just the words of this prayer, and no other, but 
to receive it as a model for this species of worship. 
One of the disciples said unto our Saviour, " Lord, 
teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." 
He taught them to pray after the following manner : — ■ 
Matt. vi. 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, "After this manner, there- 

PRAYER. 195 

fore, pray ye: Oar Father, which art in heaven, hal- 
lowed be thy name ; Thy kingdom come ; Thy will 
be done on earth as it is in heaven : give us this day 
our daily bread ; and forgive us our debts, as we for- 
give our debtors ; and lead us not into temptation, but 
deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and 
the power, and the glory forever. Amen." 

Such is the form of prayer which Christ taught his 
disciples to use ; this is believed by all Christians to 
be a perfect model of a prayer which will be accept- 
able to God. If we consider it attentively we observe, 
1st. It is proper in prayer to address God as our 
Father, to approach him with filial affection, and 
make our requests of him as of a kind parent who is 
both able and willing to grant our requests. 

2d. It is proper to mention the sacredness with 
which we regard the name of God. Under which 
head I think we might very properly speak of the 
greatness, goodness, majesty, power, and glory of God. 

3d. It is right in our prayers to ask for such temporal 
blessings as we need, being careful not to make request 
for such things as we ought not to expect ; for things 
that God has not promised to grant us. We ought 
always to offer up our desires in entire subjection to 
the will of God ; for, being wholly ignorant of the 
future, and not knowing what effect certain temporal 
blessings which we greatly desire, might have on our 


future and eternal happiness, we are liable to make 
requests of our Creator for favors which, if granted, 
would, in the end, prove a curse rather than a blessing. 

We cannot expect, then, that God will always grant 
every favor we may ask of a temporal nature, unless 
in his infinite wisdom and goodness, he thinks our 
requests, if granted, will be a blessing to its. " Thy 
will be clone in earth as it is in heaven," ought to be 
a leading principle in every petition which we offer 
to our Creator. 

4th. We ought to ask God to forgive our transgres- 
sions. We are all impure in the sight of God, and 
the best of us do many things which, if not forgiven 
and forgotten, will cause us, when "the heavens 
shall have departed as a scroll when it is rolled 
together," to cry "to the mountains and rocks, Fall 
on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth 
on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." 

We ought always to forgive the trespasses of others 
against us. When we approach God in prayer, it is 
necessary that we should do so with a pure heart, not 
bearing malice, but forgiving those who may have 
injured us. "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, 
your heavenly Father will also forgive you : But if 
ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your 
Father forgive your trespasses." 

He who extends no mercy to others, can expect 

PRAYER. 197 

none from his Father in Heaven. Great is the induce- 
ment, then, not only to forgive others, but also to 
cultivate at all times a forgiving disposition. 

When we pray, we should offer from a pure heart, 
the thankfulness which we feel, and humbly lay our 
petitions before our heavenly Father, regardless of the 
impression our actions or words may make on those 
around us. "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not 
be as the hypocrites are : for they love to pray stand- 
ing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, 
that they may be seen of men." 

Vain repetitions are forbidden in prayer. "But 
when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen 
do : for they think that they shall be heard for their 
much speaking." Our Father in Heaven knows what 
we need, and when we pray, he knows our petition. 
To repeat a certain set of words again and again, as 
if we feared that he might not have heard us, would 
be irreverent. 

But this does not forbid us from repeatedly offering 
our petitions for the same or similar blessings. Read 
Luke xi. 5, 6, 7, 8. 

Our Saviour thus recommends prayer, (Luke xi. 9.) 

"And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given 

you ; seek, and ye shall find ; knock, and it shall be 

opened unto you." " For every one that asketh, 



receiveth ; and he that seeketh, findeth ; and to him 
that knocketh, it shall be opened." 

In speaking of prayer, our Saviour said, "Your 
Father knoweth what things ye have need of before 
ye ask him." Some persons argue from this fact that 
prayer must be altogether unnecessary. For, say they, 
God knows what we need, and if he chooses to confer 
such blessings as we need, he will do so without our 
asking him. This is taking entirely too much for 
granted. Grod knows what we need before we ask 
him ; but he has never promised to grant it unless we 
do ask it of him. "Every one that asketh receiveth." 
He who righteously prays to God for those blessings 
which he needs, has the promise of Almighty Grod that 
his prayer shall be heard. But to him that asketh 
not, no reward is promised. God will know what he 
needs, but he has not promised to grant it. Besides, 
there is a manifest propriety, inasmuch as we are sin- 
ners, and have forfeited the blessings which we daily 
receive, in thanking our heavenly Father for his 
goodness and mercy, and asking his pardon for the 
many sins with which we are justly chargeable. 

The feeling of humility, of gratitude to God for the 
favors which we receive, and of entire dependence on 
him, are necessary to our progress in virtue. The 
exercise of prayer presupposes such feelings ; and when 
we reflect that we, and all that we seem to possess, are 

PRAYER. 199 

his, we must be most ungrateful beings if we are not 
willing, in prayer, to thank him for the many favors 
which we enjoy, and, by our requests for other bless- 
ings, to acknowledge his right and our dependence. 

All men who have any notion of a Supreme Being, 
are in some form accustomed to pray. It seems to be 
a duty which is acknowledged and known to be right, 
by all who have any notion of the Deity, with very few 
dissenting voices, and even they, when placed in cir- 
cumstances of great danger, forget their philosophy 
and pray most fervently. 

The Scriptures treat of prayer as a well known 
duty ; an obligation which no one doubts who knows 
God. The disciples did not once ask our Saviour if 
it were right to pray ; they only asked him to teach 
them how to pray. And on the occasion when the 
Saviour said, "Your Father knoweth what things ye 
have need of before ye ask him," he begins imme- 
diately to tell them how they should pray. 

The remark above quoted by no means conveys the 
idea that prayer is not a duty. It was made by our 
Saviour in explaining the utter inutility of vain repe- 
tition in prayer. 

Prayer is expressly commanded. 1 Thes. v. 17, 18, 
" Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks ; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning 
you." The apostle Paul recommends the making 


known our requests to God by prayer and supplication, 
accompanied with thanksgiving. Phil. iv. 6, "In 
everything, by prayer and supplication with thanks- 
giving, let your requests be made known unto God." 
1 Tim. ii. 1-3, " I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, 
supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of 
thanks be made for all men; for this is good and 
acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour." 

The prayers of righteous men for various blessings 
are recorded in the Bible. And many prayers for 
different kinds of blessings are therein mentioned as 
being granted by God. Righteous men, who are held 
up in that sacred volume as examples to mankind, 
often engaged in prayer. 

Our Saviour prayed earnestly to his Father. He 
set the example to his followers to pray to God, and 
he also, in his prayers, exemplified the propriety of 
leaving all such requests to be decided by the will of 
God. At the conclusion of his most earnest supplica- 
tions, he said, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as 
thou wilt." 

It seems evident, since those men who pleased 
God most in their actions, were accustomed frequently 
to pray ; since our Saviour taught his disciples to 
pray ; since he also prayed ; since God has promised if 
we ask for his blessing we shall receive it ; that prayer 
to God is a moral duty of no little importance. 

PRAYER. 201 

Prayer is made a mark of distinction between the 
righteous and the wicked. In the book of Job it is 
said, the wicked say, " What is the Almighty, that 
we should serve him? and what profit should wo 
have, if we pray unto him ?" And in the Psalms, the 
wicked are designated as those who do not seek after 
God. Psalms x. 4, "The wicked, through the pride 
of his countenance, will not seek after God. God is 
not in all his thoughts." 

I can conceive of nothing that is more humiliating 
to the mind of him who is so wicked as to revolt at 
the thought of humbling himself in prayer to his 
Maker, than for him to be constrained by the pangs 
of a guilty conscience, when some terrible danger is 
threatening him, to pray most vehemently. It often 
happens, when the wild tornado is sweeping over the 
land, levelling the giants of the forest with the earth, 
and desolating the habitations of men, that such proud 
hearts devoutly acknowledge the supremacy of the 
Creator, and the duty which they owe to him. 

If we neglect our duty until some such awful 
exhibition of his power shall terrify us into the 
acknowledgment of our obligation, we are doubly 
culpable. For we not only neglect to perform a well 
known duty, but when we do humble ourselves in 
prayer under such circumstances, we show fear rather 
than love of God. Whilst he, who is habitually 


accustomed to pray, does so, from the love he has for 
God, and the confidence he feels in his goodness and 
mercy. This is a far more praiseworthy motive, 
urging us to seek communion with our Creator, than 
to be urged by fear. We seldom think that we 
deserve any credit for the performance of those acts 
to which we are urged by fear. 

In our prayers we ought never to ask for anything, 
that we do not expect to receive. It would be irre- 
verent for us thus to tamper with the goodness of 
God. We are taught in the Bible, that we must 
have faith ; we must firmly believe that we will 
receive as the gift of our Father in heaven, the bless- 
ings which we ask, or we need not expect our prayers 
to be answered. James i. 5, 6, 7, "If any of you 
lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all 
men, liberally, and upbraideth not ; and it shall be 
given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing waver- 
ing. For he that wavereth, is like a wave of the sea, 
driven with the wind and tossed. For, let not that 
man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.' 1 ' 1 
Mark xii. 24, " What things soever ye desire, when 
ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall 
have them." Mat. xxi. 22, "And all things, whatso- 
ever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall 

Prayer aids greatlj r in promoting our moral per- 

PRAYER. 203 

fection. It is founded on love to God, and an abiding 
confidence in his goodness and willingness to grant 
the blessings that we need. In the practice of it, we 
exercise our faith, a forgiving disposition, and a desire 
to do right ; so that the very means by which God has 
taught us to seek blessings, is itself a blessing. 

By prayer we progress in virtue, and also receive 
from our Father in heaven the blessings we desire. 
The Apostle James speaks thus concerning the 
utility of prayer : " The effectual, fervent prayer of a 
righteous man availeth much." By way of argument, 
he adds (chap. v. 17, 18), "Elias was a man subject 
to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly 
that it might not rain ; and it rained not on the earth 
by the space of three years and six months. And he 
prayed again, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth 
brought forth her fruit." 




Experience has proven that men can perform 
more labor, that they enjoy better health, and live to 
a greater age, if they rest from their usual labor one 
day in seven, than if they devote no time to rest 
except the few hours of the night during which they 
sleep. The same is equally true of beasts of burden ; 
they are more serviceable, more healthy, and attain 
to greater longevity, if they are allowed to rest from 
their labors one day in seven, than if allowed no rest 
except that which the recurrence of night affords 

In this we observe how beautifully the works of 
our Creator harmonize. This harmony of the laws 
of our physical being with the Divine will, as ex- 
pressed in the Holy Bible, is an additional proof to 
us, that the laws therein contained for our govern- 
ment as moral beings, are an expression of the will 
of the same omniscient Being by whose power and 
wisdom man was created. 

He has not left the faithful followers of our Saviour 
with no proof of the authenticity of the Sacred Scrip- 
tures, except the Scriptures themselves ; though in- 

the lord's day. 205 

deed it seems that the evidence which the Scriptures 
furnish of their own authenticity, ought to satisfy the 
mind of the most incredulous. He who will not 
believe such an array of evidence, would not be per- 
suaded " though one rose from the dead." We 
observe in all our relations, that the true philosophy 
of our being harmonizes with the will of God, as 
revealed in the Scriptures ; thereby proving to us 
beyond a reasonable doubt, that the same omniscient 
Being who established the laws of nature, also enacted 
the moral laws which are revealed in the Holy Bible. 

The observance of the Sabbath Day, to keep it 
holy, is a duty which men were under obligation to 
perform, previous to the giving of the law from 
Mount Sinai. It was made obligatory on the Jews 
by positive enactment, being required in the ten 

AVith regard to the Sabbath Day, we find the fol- 
lowing important considerations to be attended to : 

1st. The example of God to all mankind, in resting 
on the seventh day ; an account of which is found in 

2d. The account given in Exodus xvi., of the feed- 
ing of the children of Israel with manna. 

3d. The command given in the law, to remember 
the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. 

4th. The observance of the Lord's Day by Chris- 


tians. In all of these we find it to be an established 
principle, observed by the worshippers of God in 
every age of the world, to observe a hebdomadal 
division of time in their worship ; devoting every 
seventh day to the worship of God. 

(Genesis ii. 1, 2, 3.) " Thus the heavens and the 
earth were finished, and all the host of them ; and on 
the seventh day God ended his work which he had 
made ; and he rested on the seventh day from all 
his work which he had made ; and God blessed the 
seventh day, and sanctified it ; because that in it he 
had rested from all his work which God created and 

This is the first mention that is made in the Scrip- 
tures, of distinguishing the seventh day in a peculiar 
manner, from all other days. 

We are told that God blessed the seventh day, and 
he sanctified it. 

The seventh day was a peculiar blessing to the 
pious, who devoted that day especially to the cultiva- 
tion of moral excellence, and preparing for the happi- 
ness of heaven. 

God sanctified the seventh day ; that is, he set it 
apart for sacred uses. 

The reason for blessing and sanctifying the seventh 
day is, " Because that in it he had rested from all his 
work which God had created and made." 

the loed's day. 207 

This reason has no reference to any particular 
people, but seems to be an example from God for all 

The observance of this day would naturally preserve 
the memory of the creation of the world, and lead the 
mind back to a reverential recollection of God the 
omnipotent Creator. 

In the sixteenth chapter of Exodus, we have an 
account of God's supplying the children of Israel 
with food, and his requiring them to gather enough 
manna on the sixth day, to supply their wants during 
the sixth and seventh days ; and they were not per- 
mitted to gather manna on the seventh ; there was 
none to be gathered on the morning of the seventh 
day, as there had been on the previous days. (Verses 
25 & 26). And Moses said, "Eat that to-day, for 
to-day is a Sabbath unto the Lord; to-day ye shall 
not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it ; 
but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it 
there shall be none." 

Some learned men believe that the first actual 
institution of the Sabbath took place in the wilderness 
in the manner described in the sixteenth chapter of 
Exodus. Others offer very good reason for believing 
that the observance of the Sabbath, though mentioned 
particularly on this occasion, was no new thing to 
the Israelites. But all agree in the important fact 


that it was the duty of the obedient to devote one day 
in seven, to a cessation from their usual occupation, 
that thus they might celebrate the creation of the 
world, and keep in their minds a vivid remembrance 
of the great Creator. 

The proof which certain authors, TYhewell and 
"Wayland for example, offer to confirm the opinion 
that the rest of the seventh day had an origin earlier 
than the laws delivered to the Israelites through Moses, 
seems to be adduced more for the sake of correcting 
an error ; for the love of truth, than for the purpose 
of deducing any particular argument therefrom. The 
important fact in morals, connected with the portions 
of Scripture referred to, is the same, whether we believe 
with Paley, that the Sabbath was first actually insti- 
tuted in the wilderness, or whether we believe that it 
had its origin from the blessing and sanctifying of the 
seventh day, as recorded in Grenesis; which latter 
opinion appears to me to be better founded. 

The Jewish Sabbath was an ordinance of Divine 
authority. The command was given (Exodus xx. 
8-11), "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. 
Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but 
the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God ; 
in it thou shalt not do any work : thou, nor thy son, 
nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid- 
servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that i within 

THE lord's day. 209 

thy gates ; for in six days, the Lord made heaven and 
earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on 
the seventh day ; wherefore the Lord blessed the 
seventh day, and hallowed it." 

With regard to this commandment, the reasons 
given for observing it, are the same as those given at 
the time of its first institution, viz. : " For in six days, 
the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that 
in them is, and rested on the seventh day ; wherefore 
the Lord blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it." 

Some Christian writers have identified the Lord's 
Day with the Jewish Sabbath, and claimed that the 
commandment, as above quoted, is binding on Chris- 
tians as well as Jews. In this case the seventh day 
of the week should be kept holy by Christians ; then 
they would have no Lord's Day, but should keep the 
Sabbath Day holy. But the reason given for the 
keeping of the Sabbath holy is very different from 
that which led the Christians to observe the Lord's 
Day. The Jewish Sabbath was a celebration of the 
completion of the creation of the world. The keeping 
of the Lord's Day is a celebration of the resurrection 
of our Saviour from the dead ; the fulfilment of the 
law, and the establishment of Christianity. 

The first day of the week appears to have received 
its name, the Lord's Day, from the occurrences, so 
important to Christians, which took place on that day. 


On this day the Christians were, in the early ages of 
Christianity, accustomed to cease from their daily 
labors for the purpose of performing their religious 
duties. It was called the Lord's Day. Eev. i. 10, " I 
was in the spirit on the Lord's Day. . . ." The day 
had already obtained a particular name, by which it 
has continued to be designated. 

The sabbath days are mentioned in the enumeration 
of things in respect to which Christians are not to be 
judged. Consequently we suppose that Christians are 
under no obligation to observe the seventh day of the 

We are either under the Old Constitution or the 
New; we cannot be under both. Being under the 
new order established by our Saviour, it is right for 
us to observe the customs which were established by 
his disciples. 

Moses, as a servant, faithfully delivered laws to the 
people over whom he reigned ; but Jesus Christ, as a 
son, gives laws to those over whom he reigns as our 
prophet and king. 

"We have the folio wiog reasons for observing the 
Lord's Day as a Christian ordinance : — On this day 
our Saviour arose from the dead, having accomplished 
the work of man's redemption. On this day he 
appeared to his apostles, a week from the day of his 
resurrection. On this day, also, occurred the feast of 


Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given in so 
remarkable a manner ; and on this day Peter first 
began at Jerusalem to preach the Gospel. 

Beside these reasons, it was the custom of the pri- 
mitive Christians, when they were under the imme- 
diate supervision of the apostles, to observe this day 
as a day of weekly worship. We presume that the 
apostles must have known what it was becoming in 
Christians to do ; and, as it was a practice among 
Christians in those days to meet together on the Lord's 
Day for religious purposes, a practice which the 
apostles recognised as being right, we must conclude 
that the Lord's Day is a day peculiarly appropriate 
for Christian worship. 

We learn from Acts xx. 6, 7, that in Troas the 
Christians met on the first clay of the week to break 
bread and receive religious instruction. The verses 
to which we allude are as follows: — "And we sailed 
away from Philippi after the days of unleavened 
bread, and came unto them at Troas in five days; 
where we abode seven clays. And upon the first day 
of the week, when the disciples came together to break 
bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on 
the morrow ; and continued his speech until midnight." 

We learn, also, from 1 Cor. xi. and xvi., that it was 
customary for the Christians to meet together on the 


Lord's Day to celebrate the Lord's Supper, and to 
engage in religions devotion. 

If we consider the custom of the primitive Chris- 
tians, their meeting together on the Lord's Day to eat 
of the bread and drink of the wine in remembrance 
of our Saviour, we perceive that the reason for Chris- 
tians observing the Lord's Day is entirely different 
from that given for the Jews keeping the Sabbath 

The Jews were commanded to keep the Sabbath 
Day holy : " For in six days the Lord made heaven 
and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested 
on the seventh day ; wherefore the Lord blessed the 
seventh day, and hallowed it." The keeping of the 
Sabbath Day by the Jews evidently alluded to the 
creation of the world. But observing the Lord's Day 
alludes to a very different occasion. It is kept as a 
memorial of the resurrection of our Saviour ; and the 
custom of the Christians in breaking the loaf and 
drinking the wine on the Lord's Day, is a memorial 
of the death of our Saviour. 1 Cor. xi. 26, "For as 
often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do 
show the Lord's death till he come." 

It has been a custom among Christians, since the 
earliest days of Christianity, to meet on the Lord's 
Day to celebrate the Lord's Supper, and listen to reli- 
gious instruction. This is one of the most convincing 


proofs outside of the Bible that can be offered of the 
death, burial, and resurrection of our Saviour. It is 
altogether unreasonable to suppose that all the most 
civilized nations of the world have united in celebrat- 
ing, for more than eighteen hundred years, an occur- 
rence which never did take place. 

The duties of Christians, in observing the Lord's 
Day, are shown in the example of the primitive Chris- 
tians. From their example we learn that, to acquire 
religious information, to listen to religious discourses, 
to participate in the Lord's Supper, and finally, to 
engage in any religious duty, are suitable ways of 
employing ourselves on the Lord's Day. 



It is evident, from the teaching of the Sacred Scrip- 
tures, that polygamy is contrary to the will of God, 
and therefore not. right. 

In the beginning God created man, and gave him 
one woman as a companion ; with the injunction to 
multiply and replenish the earth. It is but reason- 
able to suppose, if our Creator had intended a man 
should have more than one wife, he would have given 


Adam more than one companion, especially as by 
so doing the world would have been more rapidly 
peopled by the progeny of one man. 

The number of males and females born in the 
world, have been about equal, during every period of 
history. If it is right for one man to have more than 
one wife, say half-a-dozen, then it is also right for 
five other men not to marry at all, that this one may 
have an opportunity to indulge "the lust of the 
flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and pride of life ;" all 
of which " is not of the Father, but is of the world." 

It is evidently absurd, reasoning from the order of 
creation itself, to suppose that one man should have a 
right to a plurality of wives. 

We find that all the precepts in the Bible, concern- 
ing marriage, teach that one man shall have one wife ; 
and whenever this rule was violated, we learn from 
the. history of the family, that this violation of God's 
will was productive of great trouble and unhappiness. 
The single instance of King David with his many 
wives and the troubles he had in his family, is suffi- 
cient to show that man}?" evils are incident to poly- 
gamy, which do not follow from the marriage of one 
man with one woman. 

It may be said, that the example of the Jewish 
patriarchs proves that polygamy is not contrary to 
the will of God. Their example cannot be admitted 


as proof, in a case like this, in which we have many 
evidences that they were not obeying God's will. 
The tradition of the elders is by no means a safe rule 
to be governed by in morals. 

Our Saviour more than once condemned the tradi- 
tion of the elders. An example from Matt. xv. 1, 2, 
3, will show how little regard should be paid to 
the tradition of the elders in establishing a rule in 
morals. " Then came to Jesus, Scribes and Pharisees 
which were of Jerusalem, saying, "Why do thy dis- 
ciples transgress the tradition of the elders ? for they 
wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he 
answered and said unto them, "Why do ye also trans- 
gress the commandment of God by your tradition?" 
He then proceeded to give them an example, in which 
their tradition did transgress the commandment of 
God. Matt. xix. 8, Christ says, "Moses, because of 
the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away 
your wives ; but from the beginning it was not so." 
It is altogether probable, that this custom of having 
many wives was similar to their custom of divorce. 
It certainly was not so from the beginning. 

It is probable that the custom of having more than 
one wife, was abolished by the Jews before the time 
of Christ's appearing on earth. In the New Testa- 
ment, we meet with no direct precept against it. But 
the words of Christ (Matt. xix. 9) amount to a prohi- 


bition of polygamy : " Whosoever shall put away his 
wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry an- 
other, committeth adultery." The adultery does not 
consist in repudiating his former wife, but in marry- 
ing another whilst the former wife yet lives. Since 
this is adultery, polygamy cannot be considered other- 
wise than adulterous. 

St. Paul, in speaking of the marriage state, always 
alludes to it as the union of one man with one woman. 
Eom. vii. 1, 2, 3, "Know ye not, brethren (for I 
speak to them that know the law), how that the law 
hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth ? For 
the woman which hath a husband, is bound by the 
law of her husband so long as he liveth ; but if the 
husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her 
husband. So then, if while her husband liveth, she 
be married to another man, she shall be called an 
adulteress ; but if her husband be dead, she is free 
from the law ; so that she is no adulteress, though she 
be married to another man." 

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, restrains the 
right of marriage to the union of one man with one 
woman : "It is good for a man not to touch a woman ; 
nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have 
his own wife, and let every woman have her own 

It is evident, from the precepts contained in the 


Sacred Scriptures, that polygamy is not right. It is 
a custom which prevails mostly, at the present day, 
among heathens ; and is not allowed by the laws of 
any Christian nation. 

There is, however, a class of people in the United 
States of America, called Mormons, who practise 
polygamy, and yet they pretend that theirs is a 
society of Christians. None of the old states would 
allow them to remain in their borders, and continue 
to pursue their evil and heathenish practices. They 
retreated to the wilds of Utah, where they might, for 
a time, be heathens among the heathen. 

It seems strange that it seldom enters the mind of 
man to say that each woman has a right to a plurality 
of husbands. This would certainly be true, if each 
man had a right to a plurality of wives. For, since 
the number of males and females are about equal in 
the world, and one man has the same right to marry 
that another has, it becomes evident, if one man takes 
a number of wives, that one woman ought to have a 
corresponding number of husbands ; so that the 
equality which Grod has established, may be main- 
tained. I am sure that most men, especially those 
who have some predilection in favor of polygamy, 
would consider this reasoning absurd. If it is absurd 
to say that one woman may, under certain circum- 
stances, be entitled to more than one husband, it is 


equally absurd to say that one man should have more 
than one wife. 

The evil consequences of polygamy are numerous. 
Such is the case with all violations of Grod's will. 

Polygamy produces contests and jealousies among 
wives of the same husband. It has a tendency to 
destroy admiration of character, and cause love, which 
should be an ennobling feeling, to degenerate into a 
mere animal passion. 

The children of the man who has many wives are 
necessarily deprived, to a great extent, of the care of 
the father. Almost the whole care of the family 
devolves on the mothers, who are, by no means, able 
to discharge the duties of both parents. The men 
have many wives, the unfortunate women do not any 
of them have a husband. There would, of course, be 
much jealousy and distrust among members of the 
same family ; quarrelling, wrangling, and all sorts of 
confusion would be the necessary consequence of such 
a state of society. 

Polygamy must, to a great extent, destroy family 
pride of character, which is a great incentive to most 
persons to do right. 

The children of a parent who has many wives, can- 
not receive the same attention in their education that 
those can who are the offspring of a man who has but 
one wife. These have a father and mother both to 


care for them. There is another advantage to the 
children ; the man who has but five sons can certainly 
provide for them more easily than he can for twenty. 
It is also plain that four fathers can provide better for 
twenty boys than one can. 



The marriage vow is a solemn obligation in which 
both man and wife promise to perform certain duties 
which are incumbent on each by virtue of the promise 
which they reciprocally make. 

Marriage subserves most noble purposes : it binds 
societies and communities together by the ties of rela- 
tionship ; it encourages men and women to live vir- 
tuously, that they may gain the esteem and admiration 
of others ; it nerves parents to industry and frugality, 
that they may acquire a competency for the support 
and education of their offspring; it is the parent of 
many virtues, and it was instituted by God for wise 
and beneficent purposes. 

The duties arising from the marriage state are 
plainly and repeatedly spoken of in the Bible. Chas- 


tity is recommended as an adorning virtue, whilst a 
want of it is denounced as a base sin which will be 
followed by fearful punishment. 

Although polygamy was practised by some of the 
chief men among the Israelites, still it is contrary to 
the Scriptural precepts. God gave Adam but one 
wife, and we nowhere find, in any part of the Bible, a 
command to a man how he shall treat his wives, but 
we find many precepts concerning a man and his wife. 
Some of which are the following : — Genesis xxiv. 4, 
"But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kin- 
dred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac." Matt. xix. 
5, "For this cause shall a man leave father and 
mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain 
shall be one flesh." 1 Cor. vii. 3, "Let the husband 
render unto the wife due benevolence, and likewise 
also the wife unto the husband." (V. 10,) "Let not 
the wife depart from her husband," &c. 

Nature, as well as the Sacred Scriptures, forbids 
polygamy. In most instances recorded in the Bible 
of a man who had more than one wife, we also find a 
record of the scenes of trouble and strife which were 
the result of this unlawful conduct. 

The case of David the king, is a remarkable exam- 
ple of the evils arising from this violation of God's 
will. He had many troubles in his family. One of 
his sons rebelled against Ins authority, and was slain 


in the battle which David was forced to fight against 
him, to preserve his command over the children of 
Israel. The pathetic lamentation of David for the loss 
of his beautiful son, is a specimen of the sorrows of 
the man who had many wives. " my son Absalom ! 
my son, my son Absalom ! would God I had died for 
thee, Absalom! my son, my son!" 

In Christian countries polygamy is almost univer- 
sally abhorred. In most countries it is punishable 
by law. 

The apostle Paul, in speaking of the close relation- 
ship existing between Christ and the church, compares 
this relationship to that connecting husband and wife. 
The figure is very beautiful and expressive, and it 
also contains a useful moral lesson to husband and 
wife which, if each will faithfully practise, peace and 
happiness will cheer their lives. St. Paul Eph. v. 22, 
" Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, 
as unto the Lord. (23,) For the husband is the 
head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the 
church ; and he is the Saviour of the body. (24,) 
Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, let the 
wives be to their own husbands in everything. (25,) 
Husbands, love your wives even as Christ, also, 
loved the church, and gave himself for it. (26,) 
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the wash- 
ing of water by the word. (27,) That he might 


present it to himself a glorious church, not having 
spot or "wrinkle, or any such thing ; but that it should 
be holy and without blemish. (28,) So ought men 
to love their wives, as their own bodies. He that 
loveth his wife loveth himself." 

The duties which the husband and wife owe to each 
other, are herein plainly expressed. It is the right 
and duty of the husband to govern the family, and it 
is the duty of the wife and children to submit to his 
authority. The act of submission on the part of the 
wife to the authority of her husband, is every way 
as dignified and respectable, as is the act of authority 
on his part. If he should abuse his authority, and the 
wife should still submit, his act of authority in which 
he might feel proud, would only be disgraceful, whilst 
her submission under the circumstances would be 
doubly honorable. 

I believe that no wife, except she be one of the 
woman's right school, has any desire to assume the 
responsible position of directing and governing the 
family, the husband included, unless he neglects to 
perform his duty. If the wife sees that there is no 
head to the family, she very naturally places herself at 
the head of affairs. 

She knows that every family must be governed by 
one or the other parent ; and if the husband will not 
discharge his duty, she feels that she is violating no 


obligation to assume a part of his cares. But since 
" the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ 
is the head of the church," she ought to be very 
cautious how she assumes authority which was never 
intrusted to her. 

"As the church is subject unto Christ, so let the 
wives be to their own husbands in everything." The 
object of the wife in submitting to her husband should 
be, to make him happy ; by so doing, she increases 
her own happiness. If she should not seek to render 
her husband happy, she could not retain his affection 
for her ; and without love, union in marriage affords 
no happiness for either party. 

The duty of the wife is to obey her husband ; but 
there is at the same time, an obligation resting on the 
husband not to command, or request his wife to do 
anything which is wrong, irreligious, or unlawful. 

The husband has no right to abuse the authority 
which is vested in him. He ought to love his wife ; 
if he can conform to this portion of the precept, he 
will not be inclined to use his authority unlawfully. 

" Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also 
loved the church, and gave himself for it." Such 
love as this is not the result of a momentary feeling 
of admiration ; it is deep, abiding affection. A man 
should so love his wife that he would be willing to 
lose his own life to protect her. " Greater love hath 


no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his 
friend." You may say that this is no great mark of 
a man's love for his wife, for a sense of honor would 
urge him to risk his life to save hers, if it should be 
necessary. I grant this ; but if he should do so, and 
his motive were love, you will agree with me in saying 
that such is the degree of affection which will cause 
a man to treat his wife as the apostle requires. 

The apostle Peter speaks of the duties of husband 
and wife, as follows, (1 Peter iii. 1-7) : " Likewise, ye 
wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, that if 
any obey not the word, they also may, without the 
word, be won by the conversation of the wives ; while 
they behold your chaste conversation united with 
respect. Whose adorning, let it not be that outward 
adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, 
and of putting on of apparel ; but let it be the inward 
disposition of the mind, which is not corruptible, even 
the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is, in 
the sight of Grod, of great price. Likewise, ye hus- 
bands, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, 
as with the weaker party ; rendering respect to them, 
as heirs with you of the grace of life." 

A meek and quiet disposition in a wife will cause 
her to appear more beautiful in the eyes of her hus- 
band, than all the costly ornaments with which she can 
adorn herself. 

It appears to have been a question among the early 


Christians, whether religious belief in Christ annulled 
the marriage bonds, if this belief existed in the hus- 
band or wife only, and not in both. There seems to 
have been a doubt in their minds, whether the believ- 
ing husband ought to live in the marriage state with 
an unbelieving wife ; or a believing wife with an 
uu believing husband. St. Paul gives his opinion as 
follows, (1 Cor. 7, 12): "But to the rest speak I, not 
the Lord ; If any brother hath a wife that believeth 
not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not 
put her away. (13,) And the woman which hath a 
husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to 
dwell with her, let her not leave him. (14,) For the 
unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the 
unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband : else 
were your children unclean ; but now are they holy . 
(16,) For what knowest thou, wife, whether thou 
shalt save thy husband ? or how knowest thou, O man, 
whether thou shalt save thy wife ?" 

It appears from verse 15, that St. Paul held that 
the believer was under no obligation to follow the 
unbelieving wife or husband, if deserted on this 
account, and also in such case, the believer was morally 
free from the marriage bonds. Yerse 15, "But if 
the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or 
sister is not under bondage in such cases ; but God 
hath called us to peace." 





One of the first, most evident, and most generally 
acknowledged duties of parents, is the maintenance 
of their offspring. Nature has made this a duty of 
imperative necessity, whilst children are young. 

The child could not exist in this world without the 
care of parents, or some one to discharge the duties 
of a parent to it. No one can be under greater 
obligation to discharge these duties, than the parents 
themselves. The utter helplessness of the child 
evinces the necessity of its being supported by some 
one ; if its parents are alive and able to do anything 
at all, it is their duty to support it ; but if they should 
die or become helpless during the infancy of their 
offspring, it becomes the duty of some one else to pro- 
vide for the child and to assist its parents. 

Children need the care, counsel, and support of some 
one from their earliest infancy until their minority 
has terminated. They must be cared for, that their 
feeble frames may grow strong and healthful ; that 
they may increase in stature and natural vigor ; that 
the child may become the full-grown man or woman : 
tliat the physical organization of children may be 


properly developed, and their bodies may be health- 
ful, properly proportioned, and vigorous. All this 
requires care — such care as no one who does not 
possess the affection of a parent for the child can pro- 
perly bestow. 

It is evident that the maintenance of the child is a 
duty which by nature devolves upon its parents. It 
is the duty of the parents to furnish it with healthful 
food and comfortable clothing ; and to allow it oppor- 
tunities for taking that degree of exercise which is 
necessary to induce a healthful condition and proper 
expansion of its physical organization. 

It is the duty of parents to provide healthful food 
for their children, and it is as much a duty to see that 
they are furnished with a proper quantity to support 
life and promote health. 

If we permit them to indulge their appetites to 
excess, even if they do have food which would be 
healthful if taken in proper quantities, this excess will 
produce disease as certainly as if their food were not 
of a wholesome nature. The object being to secure 
the existence and promote the health of the child, it 
surely is as much a duty of the parents to prevent 
their child from indulging his appetite to excess, as it 
is to furnish him with wholesome food; for gorman- 
dizing will not only destroy the health, but if per- 
sisted in, will destroy life as surely as will starvation. 


With regard to providing comfortable clothing and 
allowing a sufficient degree of healthful exercise, 
parents seldom err. They usually provide for these 
necessary comforts, as bountifully as their means will 

A parent who through penuriousness alone would 
allow his child to suffer from the inclemencies of the 
weather, is a cruel, heartless being. Parents are far 
more apt to err by indulging their children too much, 
than by providing for them too parsimoniously. They 
are more apt to fail of performing their duty to their 
children, by allowing them too much food and cloth- 
ing them too warmly, than by being too sparing of 
such comforts. 

St. Paul teaches, that it is the duty of parents to 
provide for the bodily Deed of their families. (1 Tim. 
5, 8.) "'But if any provide not for his own, and espe- 
cially for those of his own house, he hath denied the 
faith, and is worse than an infidel." It is evident 
that St. Paul here has reference to providing for 
bodily need. 

In the expression, If any provide not for his own, 
&C, he is worse than an infidel ; if the apostle had 
been speaking of providing for the moral training of 
children, he could not have said that the man is worse 
than an infidel who does not provide for those of his 


own house, since the infidel does not provide for the 
moral training of his children. The Christian who 
does not provide for the moral training of his family, 
is like the infidel, but not, as I conceive, worse. But 
infidels, and even heathens, inculcate it as a duty to 
provide for the bodily need of their own families, and 
generally perforin this duty with becoming care. If 
the Christian does not perform this duty, of course he 
is worse in this particular than the infidel. 

2 Cor. xii. 14, "The children ought not to lay up 
for the parents, but the parents for the children." 
This, though said by way of illustration, conveys the 
idea that it is the duty of parents to provide for the 
temporal wants of their children ; and from the fact 
that it is used as an illustration, it is evident that 
the principle was familiar, and no one doubted its 

Next in importance to maintenance, is the duty of 
educating our children. No parent can value too 
highly the importance of educating his children. 
Yet, how often this duty is culpably neglected by the 
parents ! 

It too frequently is the case that parents allow them- 
selves more latitude in providing for the bodily need 
of their children than the injunction of the apostle 

The duty of providing for his children does not 


justify a man in devoting all the energies of his body 
and mind to the acquiring of wealth. It seems to 
have been alluded to by the apostle for the purpose of 
arousing the slothful and negligent to a sense of their 
duty, but by no means for the purpose of encouraging 
a guilty striving to " lay up for yourselves treasures 
upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and 
where thieves break through and steal." 

A parent ought not to neglect the education of his 
child for the purpose of acquiring wealth. If he has 
the means actually necessary for the sustenance of his 
family, his next care ought to be to educate his chil- 
dren. The first step in the education of children 
devolves upon the mother ; she is intrusted with the 
care of them, both male and female, until they are old 
enough to attend school. Up to this time, by far the 
greater portion of the instruction which they receive 
is from the mother. The earliest and most lasting 
impressions which they receive is from the mother. 
She it is who teaches them to speak their vernacular 
language. How important it is that she should be 
educated ; that she should be able to teach her child to 
speak correctly ! There is but little for that child to 
unlearn that it has learned amiss, whose mother is 
educated. It is spared much labor and much per- 
plexity by being taught in its infancy by an educated 


It is the mother who first teaches her child that 
there is a God, the Creator of all things, whom we 
all ought to love and adore. How much pure moral- 
ity that mother can instil into the minds of her inno- 
cent babes who is herself educated and pious ! 

Since so much depends upon the education of the 
mother, it becomes the especial duty of parents to 
attend to the education of their daughters. 

Since it is the duty of the child to obey his parents, 
it is necessarily the duty of the parents to enforce 
obedience, when not voluntary on the part of the child. 
To learn obedience should be a part of the child's 
education whilst yet young. Obedience is almost the 
first lesson which every child should learn. No 
parent should think of sending a child to school until 
this lesson is thoroughly learned. No child is pre- 
pared to enter school until he has learned to obey. 
This knowledge should be acquired at home ; not at 
school. Lessons in the different sciences are to be 
taught there, though obedience must, of necessity, be 
practised, or confusion, and not progression, will be 
the result. 

When the child is sent to school, it is the father's 
duty to watch over his progress, though, if the mother 
is educated, she can assist greatly in advancing her 
child in those intellectual pursuits which engage his 
attention at school. 


It is the duty of parents to cultivate in their chil- 
dren a desire to acquire knowledge. This desire 
should grow in the child as he grows older and 
becomes able to acquire more knowledge. 

If the child dislikes books, and feels that to learn 
his lessons is a task greatly to be dreaded ; if he has 
no ambition to excel in learning ; the parents ought to 
scrutinize their own conduct, and endeavor to discover 
any error which they may have made in the previous 
management of their child. In most cases, such want 
of pride and energy on the part of the child is owing 
to some previous bad management on the part of the 
parents. The error ought to be detected and remedied 
as soon as possible. 

In order that the parents may be able to inspire 
their sons and daughters with a thirst for knowledge, 
it is not necessary that they should be educated. The 
illiterate man can point out to his child, with much 
energy and feeling, the necessity of a good education. 
He can tell him of the misfortunes, the trouble, and 
the suffering through which it has been his lot to pass, 
because he had not a good education. There are none 
who know so well the value of a good education, and 
feel its importance so keenly, as those who have suf- 
fered from a want of it. 

It is the duty of parents to visit the school where 
their children are being educated, if it is possible for 


them to do so ; this is especially necessary with young 
children ; it does more to excite an ambition in them 
to excel in learning, than many lectures on the import- 
ance of acquiring a good education. 

It matters not, whether the parents have a know- 
ledge of the branches which their children are study- 
ing; the interest which the child sees the parent is 
taking in his advancement, has a favorable effect. 
Besides, there are but few parents who have not 
intelligence enough to discover, in a very few visits, 
what progress their child is making. 

Whenever a child thinks he has discharged his duty 
at school in a commendable manner, and is desirous 
of telling his parents how successful he has been, they 
ought not to turn a deaf ear to his story. They ought 
to listen to him with patience, and express their satisfac- 
tion. If they do not listen, with some marks of 
pleasure, to his story of success, their neglect will 
have a tendency to destroy his ambition, and he will 
shortly cease to have any success of which to boast. 

Parents sometimes teach their children to view 
learning as a punishment, by requiring them to learn 
a certain lesson as a punishment for some fault they 
have committed. In doing so, the parent is guilty of 
a great fault ; perhaps greater than that for which he 
is punishing the child. If it is our duty to cultivate 
in our child a desire for learning, it surely is a fault 


on our part, to do anything which will cause the child 
to hate books, and consider study a punishment. 

"We ought to carefully avoid doing anything which 
will cause our child to have a distaste for learning ; 
none of us are so fond of affliction as to become lovers 
of learning, if we view it as a punishment. 

Teachers are sometimes guilty of this error. They 
will require their pupils to write a certain number of 
lines, or commit a certain lesson to memory, as an 
atonement for some fault. This ought not to be done ; 
by doing so, they contradict their daily assertions. 
By using learning as a means of punishment, they 
refute the object for which the punishment is imposed. 

In educating a child, the teacher is the representative 
of the parent, and he should feel the same care for the 
welfare and advancement of his pupil, that is felt by 
the parents. Although to some extent the representa- 
tive of the parent, yet I think he has no natural right 
to inflict corporal punishment on his pupils. Very 
few parents willingly }deld this natural right of theirs 
to the teacher. It seems that they do so because they 
think there is no other alternative, and not because it 
is right. 

I do not see why they should grant this right to the 
teacher ; there is no necessity for it at all, if they will 
discharge their own duties as parents. If they will 
prepare their children for entering school before they 


send them there, they will know how to obey, and 
then the teachers will not wish them to transfer their 
natural right of inflicting corporal punishment. It is 
the difficulty of governing a school that makes it an 
onerous task, it is not the labor of teaching. 

Parents can encourage their children greatly by 
manifestino- an interest in their studies. It increases 
their diligence and industry ; and they soon learn, 
because they derive pleasure from learning. 

At first, they learn from the love they have for 
their parents ; but most children will very soon acquire 
a love of learning if they are taught properly, and 
study will become a soui'ce of enjoyment to them. 

Parents would do well, to follow their children 
through the various steps of their education. By so 
doing, both parent and child will be greatly benefited. 
In order to explain to the child the various difficulties 
with which his young mind will meet in the course of 
acquiring an education, it will be necessary to analyze 
and simplify, so that the mind of the child can grasp 
the subject. 

In doing this, the parent makes his own knowledge 
more thorough, and he maintains an intellectual su- 
periority over his child, which is a great advantage to 
both parent and child. It is far better, however, for 
the parent to encourage his child to go on, if he has 
not industry himself to set his child the example in 


learning, than to allow him to grow up in ignorance 
to prevent him from becoming wiser than himself. 
The importance of the parent's maintaining an intel- 
lectual superiority, is not sufficient to justify such 

Almost any parent who is industrious can, if he 
will begin with his child and study the same lessons 
that the child has to study, continue to maintain an 
intellectual superiority over his child, and at the same 
time acquire an education. 

A parent who has acquired a good education, and 
fails to cultivate his mind that he may have more 
time to acquire wealth, is sadly deficient in the dis- 
charge of his duty to his children. No matter how 
negligent he has been previous to the time of sending 
his children to school, he can, with very little extra 
labor in reviewing their studies, render them great 
assistance, and stimulate them to industry and dili- 
gence in the prosecution of their studies. 

The eternal destiny of the child is placed, to a great 
extent, in the hands of its parents. If the child is 
educated to be a thief, when he is grown he is apt to 
be an expert one. If he is taught in childhood to lie, 
in old age he will find the desire to bear false witness 
very strong in his bosom. If he is brought up fami- 
liar with vicious indulgences, he will be inclined to 
become a wicked man. But if he is taught from 


earliest infancy to preserve inviolate his moral purity, 
he will love morality and piety ; and when he has 
arrived at that age when men are thought to be alone 
responsible for their own acts, he will prove that his 
parents have faithfully performed their trust. 

Every parent should regard his child as an im- 
mortal soul which God has intrusted to his care, and 
for the loss of which he will hold him fearfully 

Each parent should educate his child with a view 
of preparing him to dwell in the celestial abode of the 
spirits of the blessed : to become an inmate of the 
house not made with hands ; to dwell at the right hand 
of the throne on high. In a word, he should endeavor 
to keep that soul pure, as he received it from the 
hands of his Maker; so that, when called upon to 
return it, it should be in a fit condition to be received 
again by God, the bestower of all good gifts. 

I would say, then, to parents, teach your child its 
moral obligations ; not the peculiar tenets of any par- 
ticular denomination of Christians, but those moral 
obligations which every denomination of Christians 
agree in practising ; the morality which the Bible 
teaches. Teach him to practise those duties faithfully, 
and you will find that the surest way of succeeding is 
to make your own actions an example in virtuous con- 
duct. But by no means should parents be hypocrit- 


ical with their children. If they pretend to be pious, 
they must be so indeed, or all their efforts for their 
children will be wholly unavailing. 

Children must believe that their parents are honest, 
and they cannot believe that unless they are honest. 
You cannot dupe them in matters pertaining to the 

Very wicked men, who do not profess Christianity, 
sometimes rear families that are distinguished for their 
piety. The reason is, they do not deceive their chil- 
dren, they tell them what is right, but they do not 
pretend as their parents to practise it. They confess 
their faults, and advise their children not to follow 
their example except in honesty. The children learn 
what is right, and also learn to shun evil. 

A very pious father and mother might rear a family 
of children who are not inclined to follow in the foot- 
steps of their parents. The reason seems to be that 
too great zeal for public worship and other religious 
duties which call the father away from home, cause 
him to neglect his duty to his children ; and all the 
care of the family devolving on the mother, she is 
unequal to the task of performing the duty of both 
parents. A zeal for public worship is a commendable 
zeal ; but, at the same time, a man should not neglect 
private worship, and the duties which he owes to his 
children as their father. If he neglects the moral 


culture of his children, no matter how laudably be 
may otherwise be occupied, he is not making a proper 
effort to return those souls pure to their Creator 
which are intrusted to his especial care. 

The social worship of God is a very important 
moral duty ; it ought, by all means, to be attended to 
in its proper season ; but he who neglects the moral 
training of his own children in offices of public wor- 
ship, is mistaken with regard to the extent of his 
obligations. The time occupied in public worship 
ought not to interfere too frequently with the duties 
which a man owes to his own family ; neither morality 
nor religion requires it of him. 

Example exerts a powerful influence on the actions 
of men, and it nowhere exhibits its power more 
conspicuously than in the family circle. If the father 
wishes his children to be industrious, prudent, and 
virtuous, the easiest way to gain his desire, is to be 
industrious, prudent, and virtuous himself. No virtue 
appears so attractive to a child as one for which his 
parents are distinguished. 

Parents should be careful not to couple their acts 
of piety and virtue, with austere and forbidding- 
manners. If their piety renders them happy, why 
should they not appear mild and benignant in the 
discharge of their religious duties ? This would make 
piety and virtue attractive to the young ; but an austere 


and forbidding manner will render even virtue 
repulsive to the young, whose spirits are naturally 
buoyant and joyful. 

The child's character is greatly influenced by its 
associates and companions ; therefore it becomes the 
parent's duty and interest to be careful to select 
suitable companions and playmates for his child. It 
is his duty to do so ; because, if the child is allowed to 
associate with wicked and vicious persons, he will be 
tempted to become wicked and vicious also, and the 
parent ought not to permit his child to be led into 
temptation, if he can avoid it. By associating with 
wicked persons, his child will learn to regard many 
wicked acts as pleasures, of which he might have 
remained ignorant if he had associated with better 

It is the parent's duty to shield his child from the 
debasing influence of evil associations. It will be 
much easier for his child to avoid those evils of which 
he is ignorant, than it will be for the parent to eradi- 
cate evil habits which his child has already formed. 
No considerations should induce him to permit his 
child to form associations which he thinks will be 
injurious. The desires of his child, and the remarks 
of his less prudent neighbors, should not influence 
his conduct in this case. He ought to regard his duty 
only, and discharge it faithfully. 


The rights of parents, as parents, arise from their 
duties. It being the duty of parents to educate their 
children, to train them up so that they may live lives 
of usefulness and virtue, of course the parent must 
have the right to use such discipline as is necessary for 
the accomplishment of these ends. 

Since every family forms a little society, bound 
together by a common interest, the parent, if his 
circumstances are such as to need help, has a right to 
require the assistance of his children in laboring to 
acquire the means necessary for their maintenance 
and education ; but no parent, I think, has the right 
to require the labor of his child farther than necessity 
requires, merely to gratify a culpable desire of gain. 
He ought not, for such a cause, to require the labor 
of his child when the child ought to be in school. 
By so doing, he defrauds his child of that education 
which the child has a natural right to expect at his 





A principle which pervades all animal nature is, 
that the young of every species of animals, if not 
provided for by the parents, must shortly die. 
I believe there are but few exceptions to this rule, 
perhaps none, unless among the lowest order of 

Of all that portion of creation which is invigorated 
by animal life, there is none which is more helpless 
in its infancy, than man ; and none which requires so 
much care from its parents. The unceasing attention 
of the parents is required from its earliest infancy, 
until, having arrived at the age of maturity, the man 
is no longer a child. 

During the tender years of infancy, we find it 
necessary to keep a constant watch over our child, to 
protect it from harm, to ward off the blows which are 
incident to childhood, and to prevent that destruction 
which would almost inevitably be the consequence of 
its mental and physical inability to protect itself. 

When we consider the great care which our pa- 
rents must have, and the anxiety which they must 
endure whilst we are yet infants ; when we consider 


the tears of the mother and the groans of the father, 
when their helpless infant is attacked by remorseless 
disease, the locality of which it has not the utterance 
to describe, the nature of which can only be conjec- 
tured by the contortions of the tender victim, we must 
conclude that nature itself has placed the child under 
such obligations to its parents, that a whole life of 
affection and obedience cannot more than compensate 

Obedience to parents is necessary in order that the 
child may be able to avail himself of the knowledge 
and experience of the parents. Without this obedi- 
ence to parental authority until the child has acquired 
that age and experience which are necessary to enable 
him to direct him in the path of virtue, he will be apt 
to form a detestable character, and become a reck- 
less, unhappy man. 

He who is not obedient to his parents is apt, when 
he becomes a man, to be a violater of the laws of his 
country, a degraded outcast, and it may be, an exe- 
cuted criminal. 

Disobedience to parents is a grievous sin, which is 
followed by the most terrible consequences. St. Paul 
classes the disobedient to parents, among backbiters, 
haters of God, inventors of evil things, and covenant 

That it is the duty of children to obey their parents 


is taught in many portions of the Bible. (Proverbs i. 
8, 9.) "My son, keep the instruction of thy father, 
and forsake not the law of thy mother. They shall 
be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains 
about thy Deck." 

It is not only the duty, but the interest of children 
to obey their parents ; it being the best way to pro- 
mote their own happiness. If the child is obedient to 
his parents, they will direct him in the way which 
will crown him with honor. If he is obedient to his 
parents, he will become a respectable, intelligent, and 
happy man. His intelligence will be as an ornament 
of grace to his head ; and the respect, affection, and 
esteem of his neighbors and friends will be as a chain 
of precious metal about his neck. 

Prov. xiii. 1, "A wise son heareth his father's 
instructions, but a scorner heareth not rebuke." Prov. 
xv. 5, "A fool despiseth his father's instructions." 
Obedience to parents is a mark of wisdom in a child ; 
yet how few youths appreciate this truth ! It is too 
frequently the case that young persons think nothing 
distinguishes them so much for talent and wisdom, as 
to follow their own judgment in preference to the 
counsel of their parents. " Obedience to parents is no 
indication of meanness and servility ; on the contrary, 
it is the most honorable and delightful exhibition 
of character that can be manifested bv the voung." 


He is a wise son who avails himself of the advan- 
tages to be derived from obedience to his parents ; but 
the son who is disobedient to his parents, though he 
may think himself wise, which he is almost sure to do, 
being puffed up by the yeast of ignorance, actually 
does those things which contribute most to render 
him unhappy. He despises instruction, and is denomi- 
nated by the wise king, "A fool." 

Prov. xxx. 17, " The eye that mocketh at his 
father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens 
of the valley shall pluck it out, and the young eagles 
shall eat it." 

The consequences of disobedience to parents are 
terrible. The disobedient child blindly follows the 
impulses of passion, and plunges headlong into a 
career of profligacy, which leads him to sure and 
certain destruction. In youth, he is proud, boastful, 
and ignorant; in manhood, he is wicked and debased. 

We find the following injunction to children, in 
Ephesians vi. 1, 2, 8 : "Children, obey your parents in 
the Lord ; for this is right. Honor thy father and 
mother ; Which is the first commandment with 
promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou 
may est live long on the earth." 

Obedience to parents is not only due from their 
children on account of natural obligations, but it is 
21 * 


also commanded by God, and he promises to reward 
those who are dutiful. 

Obedient children do not assume unnatural airs, and 
claim privileges which are awarded by society to those 
persons only who are of a more advanced age. 

Disobedience to parents will evidently have a 
tendency to make mankind retrograde ; to destroy the 
decency and respectability of society ; to subvert the 
just and beneficial laws which are enacted by wise 
and good men ; to revolutionize governments, and 
produce a state of anarchy which nothing but a mili- 
tary despotism can regulate. When disobedience to 
parents is observed to be general in a state, this may 
be taken as a portentous sign of manifold troubles. 
It is one of the signs of perilous times mentioned by 
the apostle Paul, which he says shall come in the last 
days. (2 Tim. iii. 1. 2, 3, -i, 5.) "This know, also, that, 
in the last days, perilous times shall come. For men 
shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, 
proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, 
unholy ; without natural affection, truce breakers, 
false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those 
that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of 
pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of 
godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such 
turn away." 

There is a limit to the obligation of obedience to 


parents; this limit is fixed in most countries by sta- 
tute; but whether fixed by statute or by custom, 
whenever one's minority terminates, he becomes a 
man; and, if he chooses to leave his parents, he is no 
longer under obligation to obey them. But, as long 
as he remains with his parents, even if his minority 
has ceased, it is his duty to obey all the regulations 
which they may choose to establish in their house- 
hold ; for, without such obedience, good order, which 
is indispensable in every family, cannot be maintained. 

After obedience to the commands of their parents 
has ceased to be obligatory, still it is right, and a mark 
of good sense in the child, to listen to the advice of 
his parents in preference to the counsel of any other 

Of this fact every child may be certain, viz., there 
is no individual, among all his friends and acquaint- 
ances, who feels as much disinterested affection for 
him as is felt by his own parents. Therefore he may 
be sure that the advice of his parents proceeds from 
a desire to promote his welfare, whilst the advice of 
one who seems to be his friend, and who may be wiser 
than his parents, may be urged upon him for the pur- 
pose of ensnaring him to promote his own interest, or 
the interest of some one else upon whom he really 
wishes to confer a benefit. The advice of the parent 
should be preferred then ; for, though he may not be 


as wise as others, you are sure that his advice is 
intended for your good. 

It is always the duty of children to reverence their 
parents ; that is, to feel those sentiments of respect 
and esteem for their parents which are due from an 
inferior to a superior. Every child should thus 
respect his parents. No matter how learned and dis- 
tinguished the child may be, he should never think 
of his parents as being his inferiors; indeed, those 
men who are wisest and most distinguished are gene 
rally noted for filial reverence. 

It is related of Napoleon Bonaparte, that when he- 
was at the summit of his glory, having reached the 
dizzy height of human greatness, he one day met his 
mother, and, playfully holding out his hand, told her 
to kiss the hand of her prince; she answered, "Not 
so, my son, do you kiss the hand of your mother ;" 
which command he very reverently obeyed. 

Thus, to reverence our parents is by no means a 
mark of an ignoble character; on the contrary, no 
matter how great may be our knowledge and how lit- 
tle that of our parents, no matter how honorable a 
rank we may hold among men, it is an evidence of 
true greatness of soul to show marked respect for our 
parents on all occasions. 

There is no more ennobling trait of character than 
that of profound filial respect, and nothing will sooner 


gain for a young man the respect of others, than for 
him to be always polite and attentive to aged persons. 

The feeling which prompts a person to be watchful 
of the comfort and convenience of all old persons is so 
nearly allied to filial reverence, that it cannot fail to 
gain the approbation of every one who witnesses an 
exhibition of it. 

There is a peculiar affection which is due from a 
child to a parent, simply because he is a parent. 
Filial affection does not spring up in the heart from 
any idea that our parents are better, wiser, or superior 
in any respect to other individuals, but it is a part of 
our nature to feel this species of affection ; yet, every 
child who is tenderly cared for by its parents does 
feel that its own parents are better, wiser, and superior 
in every respect to other individuals. This feeling is 
peculiar to childhood ; but something akin to it glows 
in the bosom of the full-grown man, though the feel- 
ing is modified by mature judgment. 

Under the influence of this feeling we scarcely per- 
ceive the faults of our parents ; we minister to their 
necessities, shield them from misfortune, support 
them in old age, and, in every way possible, exhibit 
the same care for them which they felt for us during 
our childhood. 

There is one instance in which obedience to parents 
is not a duty. It sometimes happens that a parent is 


so wicked as to require his child to perform an act 
which is not right. It may be an act which is highly 
criminal ; of course, in such a case, disobedience to 
parents would be right. 

There is another case in which the children usually 
think it right to disobey their parents. I may say 
two others. The one is, when a young man does not 
desire to pursue the profession which his parents have 
chosen for him ; the other, when two young persons 
form an attachment for each other, and desire to form 
a matrimonial union contrary to the wishes of their 

In the case of selecting a profession, the child ought 
to remember that his parents have more experience, 
and, in most cases, better judgment than he, and he 
ought to yield his fanciful predilection for a particular 
pursuit to the better judgment of his parents. If, 
however, his choice is made from sound judgment and 
a proper appreciation of his own abilities, he will not 
find it difficult to offer reasons which will both con- 
vince his parents and gain their approbation of his 

In the case of marrying contrary to the wishes of 
our parents, we ought to be cautious how we take a 
step which will be apt to prove destructive to our 

In most cases, when parents object to the union for 


life, of their child, with the person he or she has chosen, 
their solicitude for the happiness of their child has 
caused them to discern, with almost prophetic vision, 
that misery, and not happiness, will be the consequence 
of such a union. 

Some may think that it is cruelty and a want of 
feeling on the part of the parents to object to the 
marriage of their son or daughter with the person 
with whom he or she may think that life will be a 
pleasant ramble through a garden of roses ; but in 
most cases, the refusal proceeds from a very different 
motive. It is a deep affection of the parents, a harass- 
ing dread, and even a terrible certainty, that the 
affections of their child are misplaced, and that joy 
cannot crown such a union. 

The parent sits quietly, in some sequestered corner, 
watching and penetrating, with the philosophic scrutiny 
of a sage, into the secrets of the heart of that individual 
whom his child has selected as a companion for life ; 
his mind is not disturbed by the glowing passions of 
youth ; he calculates, with the utmost precision, what 
will be the consequence of such a union; if he per- 
emptorily refuse to give his consent, the young gentle- 
man and lady had better, far better, yield to the judg- 
ment of mature age and parental affection. 

There are, it is true, some parents who seem to 
think that nothing but wealth is necessary to insure 


the happiness of their children in the married state. 
If the parties know that such mercenary views 
constitute the only ground of objection by which their 
parents are influenced, I see no reason why they should 
not refuse obedience to such parents ; being themselves 
of a proper age to make a choice. 

If the parent should urge his child to marry con- 
trary to his inclination, he would be transcending the 
bounds of his privilege as a parent, and his child has 
a right not to obey. The parent may, with propriety, 
say whom his child shall not marry with his consent ; 
but he has no right to say whom he shall marry. 

In all differences between the parent and child, it is 
the duty of the parent to represent to the child, with 
fidelity, the consequences of the course which he has 
chosen, and he ought also to listen to his child with a 
mind open to conviction. This treatment secures the 
confidence of the child, and heightens his esteem for 
his parent. 




The Apostle Paul, in the sixth chapter of his 
letter to the Ephesians, writes as follows. Verse 5. 
"Servants («f Sah=i } slaves), be obedient to them that 
are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and 
trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 
6. Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers ; but as the 
servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the 
heart; 7. With good will doing service, as to the Lord, 
and not to men." 

The apostle has thus given the duties of servants, 
those duties which they owe to their masters, in few 
words, but in very plain and expressive language. 
He has required just such duties as will be sure to 
gain for every servant who performs them, the appro- 
bation of his master. 

Every master would like for his slaves to be such 
servants as obedience to the requirements of the 
apostle would make them. Every master would be 
pleased to have his slaves serve him with "singleness 
of heart;" "Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; 
but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God 
from the heart." 


The servants of Christ who do the will of God from 
the heart, always perform their duties as though they 
were in the immediate presence of God ; they bear in 
mind that the eye of God is always beholding them ; 
they know that he sees every action they perform ; 
then of course they endeavor to make every action 
agreeable to his will. 

Such service as this, the apostle Paul requires 
slaves to render to their masters on earth. He wishes 
them not to serve their masters with eye-service, as 

We can deceive men by doing as they desire when 
they are present, and when they are away we can 
immediately shape our conduct so as to thwart their 
wishes. But the servant of God cannot deceive him ; 
he knows the secrets of their hearts. They must 
serve him faithfully, or it is equivalent to no service 
at all. 

No master can desire a better servant than the 
one who serves him with singleness of heart; who 
endeavors to obey his will whether absent or present. 
Such a servant will be sure to receive reward, and 
not punishment, from his master. 

1 Tim. vi. 1. "Let as many servants (dovXoi, slaves) 
as are under the yoke, count their own masters 
worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his 
doctrine be not blasphemed. 2. And they that have 


believing masters, let them not despise them, because 
they are brethren ; but rather do them service, be- 
cause they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the 
benefit." One of the first and greatest difficulties 
with which a slave meets in becoming a Christian, is 
the difficulty of showing a proper respect and obedi- 
ence to his master. Because they are brethren, he 
imagines himself his master's peer. 

The reason of this seems to be, that ministers of the 
gospel do not explain to slaves their duties as such. 
They preach the same doctrine and same duties to 
all, not discriminating between the duties of servants 
and the duties of masters, as does the apostle, and the 
slave very naturally concludes that he is not only his 
master's brother, but his equal also. But the apostle 
teaches no such doctrine ; and I think that slaves 
would entertain no such ideas, if the gospel were 
preached to them as it is, and not as some men toish it 
to be. 

Some men who are not professing Christians, dislike 
for their servants to unite with the church. Whose 
fault is this? Would any man be opposed to his 
slaves uniting with the church, if he knew that as 
soon as they did so, they would cease to serve him 
with eye-service as men-pleasers, and be faithful as 
the servants of Christ? There is not one who would 
object. Every man would be pleased to have his 


slaves unite with the church, for they would be more 
serviceable to him. 

The condition of the master and slave "would be 
every way improved. There would no longer be a 
necessity of employing men to watch over them to 
see that they discharge their duty ; and the slave would 
hold a much higher position among men than he now 
maintains, or could possibly attain to by any other 

This desirable end would long since have been 
reached, had it not been for a certain class of fanatics 
who pervert the meaning of the Sacred Scriptures, 
and affect to hold up their hands in holy horror of an 
institution which God himself did establish. 

They speak in execration of the sin of slavery. In 
what part of the Bible do they find the expression, 
the sin of slavery ? There is no such sin mentioned 
in the Sacred Scriptures. On the contrary, in many 
parts of both the Old and the Xew Testament, we are 
taught that slavery is not contrary to the will of God. 

In the Old Testament, the law which God delivered 
to Moses, authorizing his chosen people to buy slaves, 
and hold them as an inheritance for their children after 
them, does not give us the least hint of the existence 
of any such sin as the sin of slavery ; on the contrary, 
there can be no better proof that anything is righ:, 
than the fact that God authorizes it to be done. 


Abraham was obedient to the will of God, and his 
beneficent Creator bestowed many blessings upon him. 
He became the owner of many male and female slaves ; 
some of whom mere horn in his hawse, and some bought 
with his money. Is it not passing strange that God 
did not frown upon Abraham, and did not warn him 
in any way, to avoid the heinous sin of slavery, if it be 
a sin ? Of course our heavenly Father woidd not 
have blessed Abraham, and dealt with him as though 
he were a righteous man, if the owning of slaves were 
sinful. God would not have treated him as a righteous 
man, if he had been acting in violation of his will. 

In the New Testament, we find the apostles giving 
directions about the treatment of slaves, and recount- 
ing their duties ; but we never see a line there con- 
cerning the sin of slavery. 

Our Saviour did not say one word to his followers 
concerning the sin of slavery. If slavery were sinful, 
or, in other words, if it were sinful to own slaves, 
what Christian man can doubt that Christ and his 
apostles would have told the people that it was not 
right ; that it was sinful ? 

Can any man who truly has faith in Christ as the 
Saviour of mankind believe that he, the Son of God, 
would pass by a crime of this nature unnoticed ? Can 
any man who believes that Christ publicly reproached 
the Jews for the wrongs which thev made le^al bv 


their traditions, who believes that the words contained 
in the sermon on the mount were really uttered by 
our Saviour, also believe that slavery is a sin and 
Christ passed it by without a single remark ? 

Can any one who believes that John the Baptist lost 
his head for reproving Herod because he had married 
Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, also believe that 
he would refuse to speak of the sin of slavery, or fear 
to do so, if to own slaves had been sinful ? 

Can any one of sound mind believe that the apostle 
Paul, who suffered all manner of hardship and perse- 
cution for the Lord's sake, would fear to mention this 
sin only, of all the sins which man may commit? 

Our Saviour and his apostles did not fail freely to 
reprove various sins on occasions when, by doing so, 
it was evident that they would call down upon their 
devoted heads the vengeance of an enraged populace ; 
why should they pass by this sin only ? And is it 
not blasphemy to say that is a sin which God autho- 
rized his chosen people to do ? 

But these pious Christians who have discovered a 
sin which God himself authorized, which Christ did 
not reprove, and of which the apostles must have been 
ignorant, excuse the conduct of our Saviour and his 
apostles in not making mention of this sin, by saying 
that " Christianity, soliciting admission into all nations 
of the world, abstained, as it behooved it, from inter- 


meddling with the civil institutions of any." If 
Christianity did not intermeddle with civil institu- 
tions, but only corrected moral evils, the position of 
our Saviour and his apostles is just the same after the 
above apology is made for them as before ; writers of 
Moral Philosophy do not oppose slavery on the ground 
that it is an injury to the civil institutions of a govern- 
ment, but because, say they, it is a moral evil ; because 
it is sinful. Then, make what excuses you may, if 
you assert that slavery is sinful, you do virtually 
accuse Christ and his apostles of a criminal neglect 
of duty. 

Paley goes a little farther in his apology for this 
culpable negligence of which Christ and his apostles 
have hitherto stood accused at the judgment seat of 
Moral Philosophy. He sa}<s, " Besides this, the dis- 
charging of slaves from all obligation to obey their 
masters, which is the consequence of pronouncing 
slavery to be unlawful, would have had no better 
effect than to let loose one-half of mankind upon the 
other. Slaves would have been tempted to embrace 
a religion which asserted their right to freedom ; 
masters would hardly have been persuaded to consent 
to claims founded upon such authority; the most cala- 
mitous of all contests, a helium servile, might probablv 
have ensued, to the reproach, if not the extinction, of 
the Christian name." If for these considerations our 


Saviour and the apostles thought it, better to say 
nothing about the sin of slavery, and kept the matter 
a profound secret, was it not very unwise ? was, it not 
presumption ? was it not a bold and reckless act for 
Mr. Paley and others to reveal a secret of a nature so 
dangerous and deadly ? When they are called to an 
account before high Heaven for the deeds done in the 
body, what excuse can they offer for dragging to light 
a secret fraught with so much mischief to mankind ? 

Can the son intercede for them in this case, when 
they have already published to the world, that, although 
they believe the Saviour and his apostles kept this 
matter a secret for fear of the mischief it might do 
among men, they have boldly, recklessly, and regard- 
less of the consequences, dragged it to light ? Can he 
say, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they 
do ? If I mistake not, this is the very excuse our 
Saviour will offer for them ; they teach falsely, but they 
know not what they do. 

It has been said that the relation of master and slave 
is of itself a sin. This cannot be true ; for a relation 
cannot be either a sin or a virtue. Eelation signifies 
the connection between things ; as the relation of hus- 
band and wife ; of master and servant. This is the 
sense in which the term relation is used, when they 
say that the relation of master and slave is a sin. How 
can the connection between things be of itself a sin? 


We are told that the relation of master and slave is 
wronsr, because some masters abuse their slaves in a 
very wicked manner. This is no proof at all that the 
relation is wrong, or that slavery is wrong. We might 
offer the same as a proof that the relation of husband 
and wife is wicked ; for some husbands do treat their 
wives most wickedly, but no one gives this as a reason 
for believing marriage to be wrong. Of course it is 
no evidence that marriage is wrong, and it is no proof 
at all that slavery is not right. 

I have made mention of the duties of slaves, without 
first showing that slavery is right. I have not given 
my opinion only, but have told you what the apostle 
Paul says about it, and I think he is much better 
authority than Messrs. Wayland, Paley, Whewell, or 
any of that class of writers. 

In treating of slavery, I have begun with the 
duties of slaves. Some may think I should have 
proved that slavery is right, or at least have given my 
reasons for believing that it is not contrary to the will 
of God. before I spoke of the duties which slaves owe 
to their masters. I shall give my reasons at length, 
in the latter portion of my remarks on this subject. 

I have the authority of the apostle Paul for saying 
that servants ought to be obedient to their masters, 
that they ought to count their masters worthy of all 
honor, and serve them faithfully. If this is not suffi- 


cient, I have the authority of Peter, for saying, 
" Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear ; 
not only to the good and gentle, but also to the 
froward." If this is not satisfactory, I have — wonder- 
ful to be told — the authority of Professor Wayland 
in confirmation of the truthfulness of what I have 
written concerning the duties of slaves. I do not 
consider Wayland near so good authority as the 
apostles, but refer to him in this case because, if there 
was any chance for doubting the duties of slaves, as 
mentioned in the New Testament, he certainly would 
not have acknowledged a belief in the obligatoriness 
of those duties. 

Professor "Wayland, concerning the duties of slaves, 
gives the following as his opinion : " The duty of 
slaves is also explicitly made known in the Bible. 
They are bound to obedience, fidelity, submission, and 
respect to their masters, not only to the good and 
kind, but also to the unkind and froward." How can 
Professor Wayland believe that the slave is morally 
bound to render such service to his master, and yet 
believe that slavery is unjust and sinful ? These ideas 
are wholly irreconcilable. If slavery is not right, the 
slave owes no such service to his master. If the 
slave is morally bound to serve his master as above 
stated, slavery must be right, and in accordance with 
the Sacred Scriptures. 


"Wayland is not the only author who in one breath 
tells us that it is the moral duty of slaves to be respect- 
ful, obedient, and faithful to their masters, and in the 
next asserts that slavery is wrong. 

I will quote a few passages from Whewell's 
Elements of Morality, touching this subject. " A 
family contains servants, as well as children ; and 
Christian teaching enjoins, between them and the 
masters, the duties of obedience on one side, and good 
government on the other. Eph. vi. 5, Servants, be 
obedient to them that are your masters, according to 
the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of 
your heart, as unto Christ ; not with eye-service, as 
men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the 
will of God from the heart ; with good will doing 
service, as to the Lord, and not to men. * * * And, 
ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing 
threatening, knowing that your master also is in 
heaven, neither is there respect of persons with him. 
Nearly the same precepts and reasons are given (Col. 
iii. 22 ; iv. 1) ; so Tit. ii. 9 : Exhort servants to be 
obedient unto their own masters, and to please them 
well in all things, not answering;; aarain, nor purloining, 
but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn 
the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. Also 
1 Pet. ii. 18 : Servants, be subject to your masters 
with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but 


also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a 
man, for conscience towards God, endure grief, suffer- 
ing wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be 
buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? 
but if, when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it 
patiently, this is acceptable with God." 

In this passage of St. Peter (1 Pet. ii. 18), the word 
translated servants is ohitai, which signifies those 
living in one's house; as here used, I suppose it 
means a household slave, since St. Peter enjoins the 
same duties on these that the apostle Paul requires of 
slaves ; St. Paul using the word tfoDxwj, slave. 

I shall now endeavor to show how futile are the 
efforts of Abolitionists and all who are opposed to the 
continuation of the institution of slavery, to pervert 
the meaning of these portions of the Sacred Scrip- 
tures, and substitute their own fanatical notions for 
the truth as revealed in the Bible. 

The plan which they rely on mostly, to accomplish 
their design of laying aside those portions of the Sacred 
Scriptures relating to slavery, is this : they take some 
portions of the Sacred Scriptures which do not refer 
to slavery, and endeavor to show that slavery is incon- 
sistent with the part of the Bible which is before them. 
They neglect the passages which do refer to slavery, 
and endeavor to set them aside by means of other 
portions of the Bible which do not have any direct 


reference to slavery. Being led on by an inordinate 
desire to prove that slavery is wrong, it would seem 
they fail to perceive that, instead of attaining their 
object by thus arraying one portion of the Bible 
against another, and endeavoring to make contradic- 
tions where there are none, either real or apparent, 
they are only furnishing food for infidelity. Every 
one who reads the Bible at all, must see that slavery 
is recognised by it as being right ; if certain portions 
of the Scriptures are so construed as to signify that 
slavery is wrong, you array one portion of the Scrip- 
tures against another. As our object is to find the 
truth, and since we believe that the Bible teaches 
truth, we shall, in the course of our remarks on this 
subject, endeavor to show that abolition authors have 
utterly failed in their efforts to pervert portions of 
Sacred Scripture, so as to make them condemn the 
relation of master and slave. 

There are many passages of the Sacred Scripture 
which refer to slavery in so direct a manner that no 
one can doubt its being right, unless his mind is stul- 
tified by prejudice. 

If the position which the Abolitionists take were 
true, the Bible would not prove anything with regard 
to slavery ; inasmuch as every portion is equally 
authoritative. But their position is not true ; the 
Bible does not teach that slavery is wrong, and 


slavery is right. The Sacred Scriptures contain no 
contradictory teaching on the subject. Wherever 
slavery is referred to in the Sacred Scriptures, we are 
taught that masters have a right to the services of 
their slaves, and that the slaves owe obedience and 
faithful service to their masters. 

Dr. Francis Wayland, in his Elements of Moral 
Science, published in Boston, by Gould, Kendall, and 
Lincoln, in the year 1841, tells us on page 215 : 
" The fact, under these circumstances, that the gospel 
does not forbid slavery, affords no reason to suppose 
that it does not mean to prohibit it ; much less does it 
afford ground for belief, that Jesus Christ intended to 
authorize it." On page 218, we find the following 
contradiction of what he has told us on page 215 : 
" Thus we see that the Christian religion not only 
forbids slavery, but that it also provides the only 
method in which, after it has been once established, it 
may be abolished, and with entire safety and benefit 
to both parties." On page 211, he tells us, that 
"The moral precepts of the Bible are diametrically 
opposed to slavery." In these passages, it is very 
evident that the Dr. has said nothing to convince any 
reasonable person that slavery is forbidden in the 
Bible. What he has said amounts to this; he once 
asserts that slavery is not forbidden in the Sacred 
Scriptures, and twice affirms that it is. If the Dr. 


goes on in this way, he will furnish a good text-book 
for infidels ; whilst at the same time, he fails to accom- 
plish his object of proving that slavery is wrong. 

He tells us that the moral precepts of the Bible are 
diametrically opposed to slavery ; that the Christian 
religion forbids it, but the gospel does not forbid it. 
What does the learned Dr. mean? 

In opposition to slavery, Dr. Wayland offers the 
following as an argument (page 209) : " And, more- 
over, inasmuch as the acquisition of the knowledge 
of his duty to God, could not be freely made without 
the acquisition of other knowledge, which might, if 
universally diffused, endanger the control of the mas- 
ter, slavery supposes the master to have the right to 
determine how much knowledge of his duty a slave 
shall obtain, the manner in which he shall obtain it, 
and the manner in which he shall discharge that duty 
after he shall have obtained a knowledge of it. It 
thus subjects the duty of man to God, entirely to the 
will of man ; and this for the sake of pecuniary profit. 
It renders the eternal happiness of the one party 
subservient to the temporal happiness of the other. 

Its effects must be disastrous upon the morals 

of both parties." 

From these remarks of Dr. Wayland, if we admit 
that they are true, we are forced to conclude that the 
slave has a very poor chance of performing his duties 


as a Christian ; that his chances for eternal happiness 
are altogether imequal to those of his master. We do 
not, however, arrive at this conclusion, for we do not 
admit the premises to be true ; and we desire no better 
argument to prove that the Dr. is wrong on this 
subject, than that which he has furnished us, on page 
218. ''The duty of slaves is also explicitly made 
known in the Bible. They are bound to obedience, 
fidelity, submission, and respect, to their masters, not 
only to the good and kind, but also to the unkind 
and froward ; not, however, on the ground of duty to 
man, but on the ground of duty to God. This obliga- 
tion extends to everything but matters of conscience." 

Hs seems to have forgotten, that on page 209, he 
said, slavery subjects the duty of man to God, entirely 
to the will of man. But let us continue to the end 
of the paragraph. " When a master commands a 
slave to do wrong, the slave ought not to obey. The 
Bible does not, as I suppose, authorize resistance to 
injury ; but commands us to refuse obedience in such 
a case, and suffer the consequences, looking to God 
alone, to whom vengeance belongeth. Acting upon 
these principles, the slave may attain to the highest 
grade of virtue, and may exhibit a sublimity and 
purity of moral character, which in the condition of 
the master is absolutely unattainable." 

It is strange, indeed, that he should tell us the slave 


can attain to a degree of moral virtue which is abso- 
lutely unattainable by the master, after trying to con- 
vince us that slavery is contrary to the will of God; 
contrary to the principles of the Christian religion, 
because it does not allow the slave an equal chance 
with the master in attaining eternal happiness. 

I fail to perceive the reason why he should believe 
the slave has an opportunity of attaining to a higher 
degree of virtue than the master, or that the master 
has a fairer chance of gaining eternal happiness than 
the slave, or how he can believe both of his assertions 
to be true. As for myself, since he contradicts him- 
self, I shall not believe either of his assertions. I 
have, however, a better reason than this for not 
believing either assertion. One of his assertions 
might contradict the other, and still both of them not 
be false. I do not think God is a respecter of persons, 
and therefore I cannot believe that the good actions 
of one will please him any more than those of another. 
All that is required of us is to do his will, and if we 
do that our actions are well pleasing to him, no matter 
whether we be bond or free. 

In the paragraph just quoted, Dr. Way land says 
that slaves are bound to obedience, fidelity, submis- 
sion, and respect to their masters, not on the ground 
of duty to man, but on the ground of duty to God. I 
wonder if this is the reason hu wishes us to believe 


that "the moral precepts of the Bible are diametri- 
cally opposed to slavery." We cannot think so if we 
believe that slaves owe obedience to their masters on 
the ground of duty to God. 

They are bound to obedience, fidelity, &c, to their 
] aasters, not on the ground of duty to man, but on the 
ground of duty to God. Obedience, fidelity, submis- 
sion, and respect are duties which they owe to their 
masters ; he says they owe these duties to their 
masters, not on the ground of duty to man. Their 
1 aasters are men, and he says they owe these duties to 
these men, not on the ground of duty to man, but on 
the ground of duty to God. Can it be that he means 
to say they owe certain duties to man, not because 
they owe any duty at all to man, but because they 
owe duty to God ? I must confess that I cannot com- 
prehend the expression sufficiently to perceive that it 
conveys an intelligible meaning. But if Dr. Wayland 
says slaves do owe obedience, fidelity, and other duties 
to their masters on the ground of duty to God, we will 
not object, for the obligations cannot possibly be 
placed on any higher ground. 

Dr. Wayland has, by attempting an evasion of the 
plain teaching of the gospel, furnished us a sound 
argument in favor of the belief that slavery is right ; 
for whatever must be done on the ground of duty to 
God must be right. If we say slaves owe certain 


duties to their masters, not on the ground of duty to 
man, but on the ground of duty to (rod, of course we 
cannot mean to say that they do not owe those 
duties to their masters, for we first assert that they do. 
We must mean that slaves owe certain duties to man 
because it is God's _will for them to perform those 
duties. Whatever is God's will is right. 

I begin to wonder why Dr. Wayland did not con- 
vince himself that slavery is not contrary to the will 
of God. If his expression concerning the obligations 
of slaves to their masters, means anything at all, it 
must mean that they owe these duties to their masters, 
because it is God's will for them to perform such 
service. If it is God's will that slaves should be 
obedient, faithful, and submissive to their masters, 
how can it be said that slavery is not agreeable to his 

Dr. Wayland offers the following as an argument 
against slavery. " It (slavery) supposes that the 
Creator intended one human being to govern the 
physical, intellectual, and moral actions of as many 
other human beings as, by purchase, he can bring 
within his physical power, and that one human being 
may thus acquire a right to sacrifice the happiness of 
any number of other human beings, for the purpose of 
promoting his own." Dr. Wayland has made his 
description of what slavery supposes, entirely too 


comprehensive, since it includes more than the truth. 
He does not give the true reason for the master's 
having the right to control the actions of the slave. 
This right of the master is designed to contribute 
to the happiness, moral culture, and intellectual 
improvement of the slave. Mr. Fletcher tells us more 
correctly what slavery supposes. " Slavery supposes 
the Creator intended that the interest of the master in 
the slave, who, by becoming his slave, becomes his 
property, should secure the slave that protection and 
government which the slave is too degenerate to 
supply to himself; and that such protection and 
government are necessary to the happiness and well- 
being of the slave, without which he either remains 
stationary, or degenerates in his moral, mental, and 
physical condition." 

Dr. Paley defines slavery, "An obligation to labor 
for the benefit of the master, without the contract or 
consent of the servant." He tells us, "This obligation 
may arise, consistently with the law of nature, from 
three causes: From crimes, from captivity, from debt." 
He should have added that slavery is consistent with 
the law of nature, and agreeable to the will of God 
when it is necessary for the preservation of the life, 
happiness, moral culture, and intellectual improve- 
ment of the individual. 

If the defence of negro slavery as it exists in the 


United States, were based upon this ground alone, 
and no other arguments should be adduced in favor 
of the institution, except that it is necessary for the 
preservation of the life, for the happiness, for the 
moral culture, and for the intellectual improvement 
of the negro, it seems to me this would satisfactorily 
prove that the institution of slavery as it exists here, 
is both right and expedient. 

That slavery is necessary for each of the reasons 
above mentioned, can be easily shown in few words. 

It is necessary for the preservation of the life of the 
negro. Historical facts which are perfectly familiar 
to the minds of all our readers, establish this assertion 
beyond a doubt. 

Three distinct x'aces of human beings now exist in 

the United States: the' white man, the Indian, and 

the negro. The Indian was once, by far, the most 

numerous race. They would not submit to the white 

man, and be governed according to his will ; in a word, 

they had rather die than become our slaves. The 

consequence was, they had to die. Who would have 

the temerity to affirm that the uegro race would not 

share the fate of the poor Indian, if they should 

refuse to serve us as slaves ? It is a fact too well 

known, for any man to deny, that wherever two races 

of human beings exist in the same nation, the superior 

race will either rule the inferior, or destroy it. 



That the happiness of the negro is prompted by 
slavery, will appear evident, if we compare the condi- 
tion of the slaves in the Sonth with that of the Indians 
of America. It will appear still more evident if we 
compare their condition with that of the negro inhabi- 
tants of Africa. Behold a squad of Indians ; search for 
a happy countenance in the group. Alas ! you search 
in vain. You behold an expression of deep melan- 
choly depicted on every countenance. It is not so 
with our negro slaves. If a group of them should be 
passing along the public road, you would be apt to 
hear merry laughter issuing from the throats of half- 
a-dozen of God's happiest creatures, even before you 
are in view of them. You will see no melancholy 
countenances in that group. Are they who reside in 
Africa happier ? 

As for the moral culture of the negro, I suppose all 
men know that our slaves are better informed as to 
their moral obligations than the negroes of Africa. 
Some of our negro slaves are preachers of the gospel. 

It is also well known that the negroes of the 
Southern States are far more intelligent than those 
of the same race who inhabit Africa. 

Dr. Paley perhaps conceived the idea that slavery 
is not right, because the slave is under obligation to 
serve his master, without being consulted in the con- 
tract, and without giving his consent. In answer to 


this, we would simply remark, that to contract and 
consent are no part of the rights of slaves. We would 
also add, that God did not, at any time, require the 
Israelites to get the consent of the slaves before pur- 
chasing them. Why should we deem that obligatory 
which God has never required ? 

Dr. Wayland says, " It (slavery) renders the eternal 
happiness of the one party subservient to the tem- 
poral happiness of the other." That this is not true. 
may be easily shown by a certain paragraph which 
we have previously quoted from his Elements of 
Moral Science, wherein he tells us, "The slave may 
attain to the highest grade of virtue, and may exhibit 
a sublimity and purity of moral character, which, in 
the condition of the master, is absolutely unattain- 

If the slave may exhibit a purity of moral character 
which is absolutely unattainable by the master, was it 
not very thoughtless and unjust, as well as untrue, for 
Dr. Wayland to say that slavery renders the eternal 
happiness of the slave subservient to the temporal 
happiness of the master? Slavery subjects one party 
to the command of another, whose interest, as well as 
duty, is to teach, or have him taught, the will of God, 
and encourage him in obeying that will. 

Is it possible that Dr. Wayland is so ignorant of 
slavery, as to suppose that planters of the Southern 


States allow their slaves to remain heathen idolaters ? 
Does he suppose that it is possible for an intelligent 
Christian master to cause his slave to be more igno- 
rant of the Christian religion than is the gross wor- 
shipper of a Fetish, or the human being who bows 
down in humble adoration of a snake, a cat, or some 
other of God's creatures? Does he not know that 
any southern planter would punish his slave severely, 
if he were guilty of a sin so abominable ? 

It is in a state of slavery only that the African race 
can be successfully taught Christianity. There is a 
large number of negroes united with every denomi- 
nation of Christians, in the Southern States. I defy 
any man to point to a single spot on the globe, where 
the gospel is better understood or more faithfully 
practised by the negro race, than it is in the southern 
part of the United States. You surely would not 
point to heathen Africa, where the blood of human 
victims still stains the foul altars erected for the 
worship of idols. Would you point to the Northern 
States, where the free negro is considered a burthen 
to society, where no sympathy is felt for any of the 
negro race except the runaway slave? I fear you 
will find but little care taken of the morals of the 
negroes in those states, except such provision as the 
law makes for confining malefactors in the state 
prisons and. penitentiaries. 


Another of Dr. Wayland's arguments against sla- 
very, is the following : " Inasmuch as the slave can 
be held in this condition only while he remains in a 
state of comparative mental imbecility, it supposes 
the master to have the right to control his intellec- 
tual development, just as far as may be necessary to 
secure entire submission." That the master has the 
right to control the intellectual development of his 
slave, cannot be doubted. It is equally certain, that 
the more intelligent the slave, the more valuable he 
is to his master. 

What does Dr. Wayland wish us to infer from the 
remark, Inasmuch as the slave can be held in this 
condition only while he remains in a state of compa- 
rative mental imbecility ? Does he mean to compare 
the mental acquirements of southern slaves, with the 
mental condition of the African negro ? He surely 
knows that those slaves are far more intelligent than 
the African negro. Comparatively speaking, that is, 
comparing them with the Africans, the slaves of the 
Southern States would rank as an intelligent and 
refined people. 

In speaking of their acquirements, we have no 
right to say that they are "in a state of comparative 
mental imbecility," unless they are so, when com- 
pared with the free portion of the race to which they 
belong. Compare them — I challenge you to the com- 


parison. Every candid man will decide that the 
mental condition of the slaves in the Southern States 
is far better than the mental condition of the free 

To say that the master keeps his slave in a state 
of comparative mental imbecility, is not true, if the 
negro slave is compared with the negro inhabitants 
of their mother country. But if Dr. Wayland meant 
to compare the mental condition of the master and 
slave, the mind of the slave certainly is comparatively 
imbecile. But who blames the master for a decree of 
the Creator? 

The negro race is by nature mentally imbecile. Does 
any one doubt this, let him look at the condition of 
the Africans at the present time. What progress have 
they made in civilization during the long time which 
has elapsed since we were acquainted with the ex- 
istence of the race? They have made no advance in 
civilization since the Europeans were acquainted with 
their existence, except, perhaps, some slight changes 
in the habits of those who were most associated with 
Europeans. In mental acquirements as a nation, they 
have not advanced a single step during the long lapse 
of years since their existence on the earth ; whilst the 
Caucasian race has been continually making rapid 
strides in civilization and enlightenment. ,. Does any 
one blame masters for this comparative mental imbe- 


cility ? It is no fault of theirs ; it is the work of the 
Grand Master of the universe. Whatever God does 
is right. 

One of Dr. Wayland's arguments against slavery is, 
that it diminishes the amount of national wealth. 
This can be no objection to it in a moral view, but it 
might be a reason why the state should object to it if 
it were true. If the diminishing of national wealth is 
taken as a proof that anything is contrary to the 
ordinances of God, we might with the same propriety 
say that whatever increases national wealth is in con- 
formity to his ordinances. No one will attempt to 
defend such a position. 

But is it true that slavery diminishes the amount 
of national wealth ? If so, why do southern planters 
continue to use slave labor, and prefer it to any other ? 
If slave labor were to cease suddenly in the Southern 
States, the loss of this labor would be felt throughout 
every portion of the civilized countries of the world. 
The effect upon national wealth would be far more 
serious than if the whole of Africa were at once sub- 
merged beneath the briny waves of the Atlantic. 

The reasons offered to prove that slave labor dimin- 
ishes national wealth may be ever so skilfully con- 
trived and artfully arranged, and yet they cannot 
convince any one who knows that slave labor enriches 
individuals. The nation is composed of the indi- 


viduals who inhabit a state; consequently, if you 
increase the wealth of the individuals who inhabit a 
country, you increase the wealth of the nation. I be- 
lieve the fallacy, that slave labor diminishes national 
wealth, is the most foolish thing that has yet been said 
against the institution of slavery. 

Dr. Wayland says : " The moral precepts of the 
Bible are diametrically opposed to slavery. They 
are, ' Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, and all 
things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto 
you, do ye even so unto them.' " Dr. Wayland very 
confidently asserts that these precepts — Thou shalt love 
thy neighbor as thyself, &c. — are diametrically opposed 
to slavery. Did he ever read the seventeenth verse 
of the twenty-second chapter of Exodus? "Thou 
shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not 
covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his 
maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that 
is thy neighbor's." If he has read this passage of the 
Sacred Scriptures, it seems strange that his confidence 
was not somewhat shaken ; for near by the moral 
precept, "Thou shalt love th} r neighbor as thyself," 
he also finds this commandment recognising the right 
of his neighbor to his slaves. Again, God commanded 
Moses to say unto the children of Israel : (Leviticus, 
xxv. 44,) "Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, 
which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that 


are round about you ; of them shall ye buy bondmen 
and bondmaids. (45,) Moreover, of the children of 
the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them 
shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, 
which they begat in your land ; and they shall be 
your possession. (46,) And ye shall take them as an 
inheritance for your children after you, to inherit 
them for a possession ; they shall be your bondmen 
for ever ; but over your brethren, the children of 
Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigor." 
This is very explicit concerning slavery. The heathens 
were to be the slaves of the Israelites ; and this, too, by 
the direct command of God. 

Now, surely, Dr. Wayland did not reflect that God 
as certainly said, "Ye shall take them as an inherit- 
ance for your children after you, to inherit them for a 
possession, they shall be your bondmen for ever," as 
did he say, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, 
and all things whatsoever ye would that men should 
do unto you, do ye even so unto them." Now. is it 
possible that Dr. Wayland believed that God com- 
manded his chosen people to do an aet which is dia- 
metrically opposed to the moral principles of the 
Bible? I cannot think he did. Yet it is plain — every 
one can see that God gave both commands. It is a 
little strange that the Dr. did not suspect, from this 
24 * 


fact, that the commands were not diametrically opposed 
to each other. 

The abolitionists seem to think they are on per- 
fectly safe ground, when they quote the golden rule. 
They think that slave owners must be struck dumb 
whenever they hear this moral precept. They ought 
to reflect that this moral precept cannot be incompati- 
ble with slavery, from the fact that God would not 
command two things that are incompatible. If they 
cannot reconcile their idea of slavery with the moral 
precepts of the Bible, they ought rather to suspect 
that the fault is in their own ignorance, than to ques- 
tion the wisdom and justice of God. 

The golden rule, so far from being diametrically 
opposed to slavery, inculcates it as a duty. This can 
be easily shown from a statement of facts. That you 
may be fully satisfied on this subject, read the follow- 
ing from Fletcher's Studies on Slavery : — "The 28th 
chapter of Deuteronomy contains the revelations of 
blessings and curses promised the Jews, and, we may 
add, all mankind, for obedience to the laws of God, 
and for disobedience to the same. At the 68th verse, 
they were told that they should again be sent to 
Egypt ; or that they should be exposed for sale ; or 
that they should expose themselves for sale, as the 
passage may be read, and that no man should buy 
them ; or that there should not be buyers enough to 


give them the benefit of being slaves, whereby they 
could be assured of protection and sustenance. This 
was most signally verified at the time Jerusalem was 
sacked by Titus ; and not only in Egypt, but in many 
other places, thousands of the Hebrew captives were 
exposed for sale as slaves. But thousands of them, 
thus exposed, died of starvation, because purchasers 
could not be found for them. The Romans considered 
them too stubborn, too degraded, to be worthy of 
being slaves to them, refusing to buy them. Their 
numbers, compared to the numbers of their purchasers, 
were so great that the price became merely nominal ; 
and thousands were suffered to die, because pur- 
chasers could not be had at any price." 

Now, let us apply the golden rule, or precept, relied 
upon by Dr. Wayland, in support of abolitionism. 
Would it teach to buy these slaves, or not ? 

The same incident happened once again to all the 
Jews, who were freemen in Spain, during the reign 
of Ferdinand and Isabella, when 800,000 Jews were 
driven from that kingdom in one day ; vast multitudes 
of whom famished to death, because, although anxious 
to do so, they could not find for themselves even a 
master ! Let us ask, what would the precept teach in 
this case ? 

Nor has such a peculiar relation of facts been con- 
fined to the Jews alone. In 1376, the Florentines, 


then a travelling, trading, commercial people, but in 
many instances quite forgetful of the rules of Christ- 
ian honest}^, became exceedingly obnoxious to their 
neighbors, especially to the subjects of the Church of 
Rome. To many of them murder and robbery became 
a mere pastime. From individuals the moral poison 
was communicated to their government. The Church 
was despoiled of her patrimony, her subjects of their 
homes. The Church remonstrated until patience was 
exhausted, when Gregory XI. issued his papal bull, 
delivering each individual of that nation, in all parts 
of the earth, who did not instantly make reparation, 
up to pillage, slavery, or death. 

Let us notice how Walsingham witnessed this mat- 
ter in England, where a large portion of the traders 
were of that people, all liable, if free men, to be put 
to death by any one who might choose to inflict the 
punishment ; and their effects were legally escheated 
to whomsoever might seize them. Slavery was their 
only remedy. The Anglo-Saxon Normans, the natives 
of the realm, had not yet as a people sufficiently 
emerged from the poverty and darkness of the times 
to give them protection. This, to us so strange a 
relation between the church and civil government, in 
regard to the Florentines, produced an action on the 
part of the king, by which he became their personal 
master. Thus they became slaves, not of the crown, 


but of the individual who sat on the throne. Did he 
act in conformity to this precept or not ? 

John and Richard Lander were sent by the "Lon- 
don African Association" to explore some parts of 
Africa. On the 24th of March, 1830, they were only 
a half-clay's travel from the sea-coast, at which point 
they say, (vol. I., p. 58) : — 

" Meantime, the rainy season is fast approaching, as 
is sufficiently announced by repeated showers and 
occasional tornadoes ; and, what makes us still more 
desirous to leave this abominable place, is the fact, as 
we have been told, that a sacrifice of no less than three 
hundred human beings, of both sexes and all ages, is 
about to take place. We often hear the cries of these 
poor creatures ; and the heart sickens with horror at 
the bare contemplation of such a scene as awaits us, 
should we remain here much longer." 

It is to be regretted that since the abolition of the 
slave trade in Africa, slaves have become of little 
value in that country. That the Africans, in many 
places, have returned to sacrifice and cannibalism, is 
also true, and cause of deep sorrow to the philanthro- 
pist ; but, considering the state and condition of these 
savages, there is no alternative ; the slave there, if he 
cannot be sold, is at all times liable to be put to 

Suppose you buy, and then turn them loose there ; 


they will again and instantly be the subjects of 
slavery ; and even there, slavery is some protection, 
for, so long as the savage master chooses or is able to 
keep his slave alive, he is more sure of the usual 
means of living, Bat let us present this state of facts 
to the Christian, and ask him to apply the golden 
rule ; and, in case the slave trade with Africa had not 
now been abolished, what would he deem it his duty 
to do for the practical and lasting benefit of these 
poor victims, whom the sympathy of the world has 
thus consigned to sacrifice and death ? 

"All things whatsoever ye would that men should 
do unto you, do ye even so unto them." This precept 
certainly is susceptible of being explained in a definite 
manner ; so that no one need be at a loss to apply it 
correctly. It is, as I conceive, the province of the 
moralist to explain it, especially since, by a perverted 
use of it, very wicked deeds may be justified, and 
that which is strictly right may be condemned. 

Formerly it was not thought necessary to explain 
a precept, the signification of which is so plain, the 
moral application of which is so pure and simple. 
But since this simple and admirable precept has been 
used by the abolitionists to stir up wrath against that 
which is as truly right in the sight of God as is the 
practice of this precept, it becomes necessary, as much 
as is possible, to define the precept, or at least in no 


way to countenance the use of it either to justify any 
act which is wrong, or to condemn an act which is 
right. That such unwarrantable use is made of this 
precept by the abolitionists, is, I think, undeniable. 

Does any one conscientiously believe that this pre- 
cept means anything else than that we should always 
do right f That we should do justice to our fellow- 
man, and temper our justice with mercy? Do unto 
others as ye would that they should do unto you, 
signifies nothing more nor anything less than that in 
all your acts toiuards other men you should be both just 
and merciful. This is the way God acts towards us, 
and this is the way he wishes us to act towards each 

There is nothing at all in this that is inconsistent 
with the institution of slavery. I think it a great 
piece of effrontery in the abolitionist to insult the 
slave owner with the assertion that he is not just and 
merciful to his slaves. " AVho art thou that judgest 
another man's servant ? To his own master he 
standeth or falleth." Be thou just and truthful in 
your uncalled-for philippics against owners of slaves. 
In your treatment of them, shrink not from the prac- 
tice of the moral precept contained in the golden rule. 
All things whatsoever ye would that men should do 
unto you, do ye even so unto them. 

The abolitionists seem to think, from the pertinacity 


with which they continue to utter this moral precept 
with a loud voice, when applied to slave owners, it 
means that whatsoever we might desire for ourselves 
in any relation in life, we should be willing to grant 
to others in the like relation or condition. That we 
ought to do unto others as we would wish others do 
unto us, if we could immediately change places with 

This interpretation might do if all men were perfectly 
virtuous, which is utterly impossible, in our present 
imperfect state. As society now exists, a universal 
application of the precept, with this interpretation, 
would entirely destroy the administration of justice 
by the laws of a state, and the laws of society would 
be perfectly nugatory. No criminal could be punished 
for any offence he might commit. Robbery, theft, 
murder, or any crime which it is possible for man to 
commit, would find a ready excuse ; for the judge and 
the jurors would at once say, If I had done this deed, 
I should like to be acquitted. Then do unto others 
as you would that they should do unto you, and you 
would acquit them, of course, according to the above 
interpretation. Is there any man who, if he were 
arraigned as a guilty criminal at the bar of justice, 
would not wish the judge and jury to acquit him? 
Is this a reason why he, as judge or juror, ought to 
pronounce every criminal not guilty ? Every judge 


before whom a man is tried for committing murder, 
would be very desirous, if he were in the situation 
of the criminal, that the judge should not pronounce 
sentence against him ; does the moral precept, Do unto 
others as you would have others do unto you, require, 
for this reason, that the judge shall not pronounce 
sentence against any criminal? It certainly would 
require this at his hands, if it meant that we ought to 
do for others, those acts which we would like them to 
do for us, were we in their situation, and they in ours. 
The true question, the one which the precept does 
really demand, is for the judge to ask himself what 
ought I to do ? The answer would be, decide justly ; 
at the same time remembering to be merciful. 

It is believed by many, if the slave holders should 
act in obedience to the precept, " All things what- 
soever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye 
even so unto them," they would immediately free 
their slaves, and leave them to protect and support 
themselves. This would neither be just nor merciful. 
The negroes would soon become miserable outcasts 
and pests to society ; and their condition would be 
wretched in the extreme. Whereas, now, they are 
provided with all the necessaries of life, cared for and 
protected by their masters, and happy in the certainty 
of being provided for in the future, and supported in 
old age. 

25 T 


If they were freed from the control of their masters, 
many of them would wander over the land, a set of 
houseless thieves and destitute vagabonds. Knowing 
this, we do not intend to abandon them. Liberty 
would not be a blessing to them, but a curse. What ! 
you ask, Can liberty be a curse ? I answer, it is the 
worst of all curses, to a people who are incapable of 
self-government. The anarchy, the destruction of life 
and property, and the bloody guillotine of the French 
revolution, sufficiently attest this fact. The French 
people needed a king. The negroes need a master to 
rule over them, that they may be peaceful, quiet, and 
happy ; and make some progress in civilization. 

No matter what degree of civilization and useful- 
ness the negro may attain to, under the care of good 
masters, if you throw him upon his own resources he 
immediately begins to relapse into a state of barbarism. 

The negroes of Guiana and of the West India isl- 
ands, which were once held in slavery by British 
masters, were, at that time, as useful a class of labor- 
ing people as any in the world. They now retain 
scarcely any traces of civilization, and are already but 
little superior to the untutored savages of Africa. 

Did the British people obey the moral precept in 
question when they abandoned those beautiful and 
fertile islands, the products of which once furnished 
food for millions, to an enervate, slothful race, which 


is fast relapsing into a savage state ? It seems to me 
not to have been an act of justice and mercy, but one 
of great injustice and cruelty to both master and slave. 

We will notice another portion of the Sacred Scrip- 
tures in which slavery is mentioned, and concerning 
which there is some diversity of opinion, at the present 
day ; whereas, formerly, it seems that there was none. 

It appears that among other subjects concerning 
which there was a difference of opinion in the church 
at Corinth, slavery also was discussed. In the first 
chapter of Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, we 
find the apostle beseeching them, as brethren, to be 
of one mind, to speak the same thing, to have no 
divisions among them. "For it hath been declared 
unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of 
the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among 

It appears that slaves who were owned by Christian 
masters at Corinth, thought that being received into 
the church as the brethren of their masters, virtually 
absolved them from all obligation to serve their 
masters. The apostle does not assent to this opinion. 
He tells them : (1 Cor. vii. 20,) " Let every man abide 
in the same calling wherein he is called. (21,) Art 
thou called being a servant ? care not for it : but if 
thou mayest be made free, use it rather. (22,) For he 
that is in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's free- 


man ; likewise also lie that is called, being free, is 
Christ's servant. (23,) Ye are bought with a price; 
be not ye the servants of men." Lest any one should 
suppose by this verse that he meant to deny what he 
had already said in verse 20, he again says : (24,) 
" Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein 
abide with God." The question is, did the apostle 
mean to approve or condemn slavery ? Did he mean 
to tell the Corinthian slave to abide in the same call- 
ing wherein he was called, or not ? If not, why did 
he tell him so ? Did he mean to tell the slave that he 
ought to hate slavery and endeavor to be free from it ? 
If so, why does he say, "Art thou called being a ser- 
vant ? care not for it" ? 

It seems that the apostle had not learned to view 
slavery as a sin. He did not consider that being a 
slave or not being a slave, being circumcised or not, 
made any difference in religion. "Circumcision is 
nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing ; but the keep- 
ing of the commandments of God." 

If a man keep the commandments of God, it mat- 
ters not whether he is circumcised or uncircumcised, 
bond or free, his deeds are acceptable to God. 

Concerning verse 21, it appears that some writers 
have caused great confusion by not knowing what the 
pronoun it stands for in the sentence "but if thou 
mayest be made free, use it rather." They suppose 


that it stands for freedom. Put this noun in the place 
of the pronoun it in that sentence, and read verses 20, 
21, 22, 23, and 24, and what the apostle says in one 
verse will be a contradiction of what he says in the 
others. It, in the sentence alluded to, evidently stands 
for servitude. Supply servitude in the place of it, and 
the continuity of logic will be maintained; whereas 
if you supply the noun freedom, it will be destroyed. 

"We will supply the noun. Let every man abide in 
the same calling wherein he is called. Art thou called, 
being a servant ? care not for it ; but if thou mayest 
be made free, use servitude rather ; for he that is in the 
Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman; likewise 
also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. 
Mark the reason which the apostle gives for telling 
them to use servitude rather; "for he that is in the 
Lord, being a servant, is the Lord'syreemcm; likewise, 
also, he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. 
This reason would not apply at all to what he had just 
said, if the noun freedom were placed for the pro- 
noun it. 

Concerning this subject, I will quote some passages 
from Professor Bledsoe's work on liberty and slavery. 
" Art thou called, beingr a servant ? care not for it ; 
but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather." "The 
Greek runs thus : «// el xait dwaaat eXeuffepoq yevzaOat, 
fia)lo\> zp\<mi, — literally, bat, even if thou canst become 
25* R 


free, rather make use of. Make use of what ? The 
Greek verb is left without a cause. How then shall 
this be supplied ? To what does the ambiguous it of 
our translation refer? One and all of the native 
Greek commentators in the early ages, says Stuart, 
and many expositors in modern times, say that the 
word to be supplied is doulsia, i.e. slavery, bondage. 
The reason which they give for it is, that this is the 
only construction which can support the proposition 
the apostle is laboring to establish, viz., Let every 
man abide in statu quo. Even De Wette (who, for his 
high liberty notions, was banished from Germany), in 
his commentary on this passage, seems plainly to 
accede to the force of this reasoning ; and with him 
many others have agreed. No man can look at the 
simple continuity of logic in the passage, without feel- 
ing that there is force in the appeal. Yet the fact 
should not be concealed that Stuart himself is not 
satisfied with the exegesis of the passage ; which, 
according to his own statement, was the universal in- 
terpretation from the early ages down to the sixteenth 
century. This change, says he, seems to have been 
the spontaneous prompting of the spirit of liberty 
that beat high in the bosom of its author." 

Professor Bledsoe asks, " Have we not some reason 
to distrust an interpretation which comes not exactly 
from heaven, but from a spirit beating high in the 


human breast ? That is certainly not an unerring 
spirit." A spirit which beats so high as to hammer 
St. Paul's epistle into an incompatible mass, must 
indeed be a dangerous spirit. 

We find the following very satisfactory reasons for 
believing that it is according to the will of Cfod, that 
any race of people who are incapable of self-govern- 
ment, who would not in course of time become 
civilized under the government of princes or rulers 
of their own blood, shall be held in bondage by a 
superior race. 

1st. Because God gave laws to his chosen people, 
authorizing them to buy slaves of the heathen that 
were round about them. 

2d. Because there is no precept in either the Old or 
the New Testament forbidding slavery. 

3d. Because we find the duties of both master and 
slave recorded in the Sacred Scriptures. 

4th. Because, whenever two distinct races inhabit 
the same land, the inferior race must act as slaves to 
the superior, or they will be put to death ; or else 
driven out of the country. 

5th. Because, for the inferior race to serve the 
superior is greatly conducive to the happiness and 
welfare of both races, so long as they both inhabit the 
same territory. 

I believe that sufficient proof to satisfy the mind of 


every one who is Avilling to know the truth, will be 
found in the pages preceding the above reasons, so 
that there is no necessity of giving further proof of the 
fact that slavery is conformable to the will of God. 
We will only add a few remarks concerning our 
fourth reason. 

Examine the history of every nation, and you will 
find abundant proof in all ages of the world, from the 
time of Abraham, up to the present day, that it is the 
universal practice among men, for the inferior race 
either to live in subjection to the superior, to be 
driven out of the country, or to be put to death. 

The historjr of our own country furnishes a memo- 
rable proof of this principle. The illustration of it is 
even now going on. 

When the independence of the United States was 
declared, there were three distinct races of men 
inhabiting the same land; two inferior, and one 
superior. One of these inferior races, the black man, 
submitted to the dominion of the white man and 
became his slave. This race has rapidly increased in 
numbers, has enjoyed many blessings to which the 
other inferior race is a stranger, and has attained in 
half a century to a degree of civilization, which the 
same race in their native wilds of Africa has not 
reached in four thousand years ; and to which they 
never will attain, if left to their own government. 


The other race, the North American Indian, has 
not yet been brought into subjection to the white 
man. But where now are the countless numbers of 
Indians, who once frequented the delightful hunting- 
grounds of America ? They have fallen ; and been 
scattered by the white man, like the leaves of the 
forest when blasted by autumn winds. 

All this is in accordance with a general principle, 
recognised and acted upon by all mankind. The 
inferior race must serve the superior, must be banished, 
or must die. Such is the universal decision of man- 

There is one objection which has been urged against 
the institution of slavery, to which I have made no 
answer. It is the argument, as they call it, derived 
from the Declaration of Independence. We cannot 
receive assertions which were made in the Declaration 
of Independence as being authoritative in morals. 
As we do not wish to discuss the argument, we will 
simply refer those who believe that all men are born 
free and equal, to what Professor Bledsoe has said of 
the subject, in his work entitled Liberty and Slavery, 
where they will find the abolition fallacy derived 
from the Declaration of Independence fully exposed. 




In the beginning God created the earth and all 
things in it, and he gave to man dominion over the 
earth, the sea, and all the animate and inanimate 
portions of creation. 

The earth, therefore, and all things therein, are the 
general property of all mankind, from the immediate 
gift of the Creator. Thus we find it an easy matter 
to establish the right of mankind to property in the 
earth, and all its varied products. 

Man has a right to such property, for the right was 
given to him by the Creator ; whose right to dispose 
of the things he has created, in whatever manner he 
sees fit, is altogether indisputable. But this esta- 
blishes the common right of all mankind to the earth 
and its products ; and when, at this distant period of 
time, we behold the community of right entirely 
destroyed in all things in which individuals may 
acquire an exclusive right, it becomes a matter of 
some importance to inquire how this universality of 
right could be justly abrogated, and entirely merged 
in the right of individuals. 
.In order to comprehend this condition of things, it 


will be necessary to take a view of the history of 

Pleased as we are with the possession of property, 
as a general thing, we feel but little desire to inquire 
into the true cause upon which our right is based. If 
our title from a previous owner is legal, and we feel 
no dread of being molested in our possession, we are 
contented, and rather avoid the inquiry into the 
justice of annulling the right which all mankind had 
to the earth and its products. 

We need not dread the inquiry ; we need not 
attempt to avoid the discussion, by agreeing with the 
poet, in asserting that " whatever is, is right ;" for the 
exclusive right of property, as now vested in indi- 
viduals, can be easily shown to be morally right. 
That it is right, according to the civil institutions of 
governments, is well known, but whether those civil 
institutions are based upon moral principles might be 

The history of the right of property begins almost 
as early as the creation. Gen. ix. 2, 3, "And the 
fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every 
beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, 
upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all 
the fishes of the sea ; into your hand are they deliv- 
ered. Every moving thing shall be meat for you : 
even as the green herb have I given you all things." 


Upon this portion of the Bible we may rest the 
general right of mankind to property in the earth and 
its products. 

Each man had a right to appropriate to his own 
use, whatever product of the earth he thought would 
contribute to his own gratification. Each man had a 
right to the use of any fruit he should pluck, to the 
sustenance which any of the beasts of the field or 
birds of the air might afford him, any of which he 
had a right to take and use. 

Out of this community of right, very soon there 
arose an exclusive right — the right of the individual 
to whatever he had by his own labor appropriated to 
his own use. Without this right being acknowledged 
by men, there could have been no peace or safety in 
any community. The good gifts which God bestowed 
upon man, instead of contributing to his enjoyment, 
would have been the cause of continual quarrelling 
and fighting. Those things which were intended as 
blessings would have been changed to curses. 

Suppose, for instance, a certain individual had gone 
into the forest and slain a deer for his own use ; when 
he was returning to his habitation another man who 
also wants a deer should meet him, he might demand 
this one which was already slain. He could say, We 
all have an equal right to the beasts of the field ; you 
have taken this deer to which I had as good a right 


as yourself. He who had captured the deer would 
of course refuse to give it up. alleging that he had a 
right to the use of the beasts of the field ; he had taken 
this, and would keep it. The labor which he per- 
formed in taking the deer, must be acknowledged by 
the rest of mankind, as conferring on him the exclu- 
sive right to that which he had thus appropriated to 
his own use. The welfare, peace, and happiness of 
mankind demanded the acknowledgment of such right. 
In this way individuals would very soon acquire the 
exclusive right to certain species of property. 

As a matter of course, this right which one indi- 
vidual had to certain property, to the exclusion of all 
others, must have existed at a very early period of the 
world ; for individuals would of necessity be appro- 
priating certain things to their own use, and thereby 
gaining a right of property in the things which they 
had by their own act set apart from the common 

The first objects of property would naturally be 
the fruits of the earth which a man had gathered, the 
animals which he had caught ; and next to these his 
habitation — the cave, tent, or house in which he 

We read in the Bible that Abel, the son of Adam, 
was a keeper of sheep ; and Cain was a tiller of the 
land. Gen. iv. 4, "And Abel, he also brought of the 


firstlings of his flock. ..." Thus early had the right 
to certain property vested in individuals. 

In the early ages of the world, the right of pro- 
perty in many things consisted in the use of the thing 
appropriated, without extending to the substance. 
The continuous right of individuals to certain tracts 
of land, was not acknowledged until societies and 
even states were formed. 

When the earth became more densely inhabited, 
and man could not leave a house which he had built, 
a field which he had tilled, or a flock which he had 
tamed, without danger of some one else taking pos- 
session of the property which he had left, it became 
necessary to establish a more durable and permanent 
right in the individual to whatever property he had 

A man would hardly build a house, tame a flock, or 
perform much labor of any kind for contributing to 
comfort and convenience, if, as soon as he had walked 
away from his possession, was not actually using it, 
any other person might appropriate it to his own 
use, to the exclusion of the former owner. Hence, 
custom established a permanent right in the individual 
to his flocks, his tent, and all movables which he pos- 

In the early ages of the world, flocks and herds 
afforded to man almost his onlv food and clothing. 


It very soon became necessary to establish the right 
of the individual to such property, so as to encourage 
men to take care of cattle and raise a sufficiency of 
food for all. It being necessary to have water for their 
flocks, the first discoverer of a fountain, or the man 
who dug a well, was by common consent acknow- 
ledged to be the rightful owner of it. The right of 
property in wells was established, whilst the land 
around them still remained common. We find Abra- 
ham exacting an oath of Abimelech that his right to 
a certain well which he had dug should be perma- 
nent, even before the convenience and welfare of 
mankind made it necessary to establish a permanent 
right to land. 

During the patriarchal age, the majority of men 
were shepherds ; the shepherds supplied food to man- 
kind then, as farmers do now. It was more convenient 
for shepherds to drive their flocks about and pasture 
them on unoccupied ground, than it would have been 
for each one to confine himself to a certain spot of 

In case each one had occupied a certain spot as a 
pasture for his flocks, the natural products of the soil 
would soon have failed to afford sustenance for them, 
and the men would have been forced to till the ground. 

We infer, from the account of the dispute which 
arose between the herdsmen of Abraham and Lot, that 


the land was still held in common for pasturage. 
Genesis xiii. 8-11, "And Abram said unto Lot, let 
there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, 
and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen ; for we 
be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? 
Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me. If thou wilt 
take the left hand, then I will go to the right ; or if 
thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the 
left. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the 
plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, 
before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gromorrah, even 
as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as 
thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the 
plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east, and they 
separated themselves, the one from the other." 

So long as the welfare of mankind demanded that 
any species of property should remain common to all, 
there was no right accorded to individuals to the 
permanent use of it ; the habits of man made it 
necessary that the right to the Sise of land should be 
withheld from individuals longer than the right to 
other species of property ; but when the earth became 
more densely populated, when families increased to 
tribes, and tribes became nations, it was necessary for 
a more determinate right in land to be established, 
than had hitherto been recognised. 

It became necessary to till the soil, that it might 


yield more abundant products for the sustenance of 
man. It was deemed expedient to acknowledge each 
man's right to his farm and its products, as well as to 
his dwelling ; for he would not labor to till the land, 
if not protected in the right to dispose of its products. 

So that the right of individuals to that which once 
belonged of right to all, originated in a desire to 
promote the general good, and not, as might seem, 
from any species of injustice or selfishness. 

It became necessary, for the benefit of mankind, for 
governments to establish such right by law. This law 
being recognised by the Sacred Scriptures, the right 
of individuals to property in lands and other things 
which had once been common property, was as just 
and as strictly in accordance with moral law, as had 
been the common riarht arising from the immediate 
gift of God. 

By the gift of God, mankind acquired a right to the 
use of the earth and its products. This gift was evi- 
dently intended for the benefit of mankind in general ; 
so that it became the duty of man to use it in that 
manner which Avould be most beneficial. In accord- 
ance with this duty, as soon as the population of the 
earth became so dense that it was necessary to culti- 
vate the land in order to supply their wants, it was 
made lawful to grant to individuals the exclusive right 
to certain lands. 

20* U 


God, in bestowing the gift, did not require that 
mankind should hold it in common, or retain the right 
according to any established rule. He gave them the 
right to use the benefit which he had conferred, in that 
manner which they believed would be most advan- 
tageous. In the disposal of the gift, they acted in 
harmony with the will of their Creator; the object 
being to dispose of it in such a manner as would be 
most beneficial to mankind. 

There is no right which men claim that is better 
established by scriptural teaching than the right of 
property ; and a violation of this right is a gross sin. 

The mode of acquiring the right of property is left 
principally to the law of the land ; and by this law our 
rights, as citizens of the state, are protected. But 
men may, in some instances, unjustly obtain a title to 
property, even when their right is acknowledged by 
the law of the land. 

In such cases the moral law does not recognise the 
right which the law of the land allows, and the indi- 
vidual cannot retain such ill-gotten gain without feel- 
ing some pangs of conscience. Yet the moral law 
does not justify the injured party in any violation of 
the law of the land to obtain his just rights. It 
appeals to the conscience of the aggressor, and de- 
mands of him restitution. 

If one man should loan another a certain amount of 


money without taking his note, or having some other 
satisfactory evidence to offer in proof of his having 
loaned this amount, the borrower could refuse to pay, 
and the law of the land could not reach the case for 
want of proof. The moral law, however, most em- 
phatically appeals to the conscience of the man ; for 
he knows the justice of the claim urged against him. 

Another case in which the law of the land may be 
made to justify wrong, is when a minor contracts a 
debt for things not necessary, with the design of not 
paying the debt. The law of the land, having for its 
object the protecting of young persons from the frauds 
which might be imposed upon them by others, puts it 
in the power of the minor to take unjust advantage of 
the tradesman in some instances. If the youth should 
take advantage of the law of the land, his act would 
be criminal by the moral law. 

The commandment, " Thou shalt not steal," amounts 
to a recognition of the exclusive right of individuals 
to the property which they possess. If the right to 
certain property Avere not vested in individuals, but 
all men had an equal right to every species of pro- 
perty, there could be no stealing. "Whatever a man 
took would be his own. 

There are various means of acquiring property 
which are recognised by the laws of the land. These 
modes are similar in all civilized nations, and being 


in no way a violation of the moral law, they are, in 
the strictest sense, right. 

We may acquire a right to property in the follow- 
ing ways : By the labor of our hands ; by exchange ; 
by gift ; by will ; by inheritance, and by occupancy. 

A man has an exclusive right to whatever he 
separates from the common stock by means of his 
own labor. A tree may produce fruit which any one 
has a right to enjoy who will gather it. He who takes 
the trouble to do so, has the exclusive right to the 
fruit ; for, by his own act, which he had a right to per- 
form, he has separated this fruit from the common 
stock, and no one else can acquire a right to this fruit, 
after it has been thus gathered, without the consent 
of the individual who performed the labor. On the 
same principle we may acquire the right to any 

The right of property includes the right to ex- 
change that which I possess for the property of an- 
other individual. The right of possession includes 
the right of barter and trade ; the right to exchange 
the commodities which I possess for those which 
another individual has ; the right to give or receive 
money for property. 

If I cultivate cotton, and my neighbor raises hogs, 
we have a right to exchange with each other, to suit 
our convenience ; so that, whilst I supply him with 


clothing, lie furnishes me with food. We can, with 
equal propriety, receive money as an equivalent for 
what we have produced. Property acquired in either 
way, is rightfully held if the transaction is not per- 
formed in violation of the laws of our country, or, 
when trading with foreigners, in violation of the laws 
of either nation. 

The government has a right to enact laws regulat- 
ing commerce, and, of course, we cannot rightfully 
acquire property in violation of those laws. The 
transaction may be otherwise honest, yet, if contrary 
to the laws of the land, the property thus acquired 
cannot be rightfully held. We have no right to pur- 
chase contraband goods ; and, although we might pay 
the possessor a full compensation for the trouble he 
had taken to obtain those goods, still our possession 
of such property would not be right ; because the 
property would not be legally acquired. 

Inasmuch as we have the right to convey our pro- 
perty to another for an equivalent, we must have a 
right to bestow it upon him, if we choose, without an 
equivalent. We may, if we choose, voluntarily con- 
fer on another the right of ownership, to gratify feel- 
ings of benevolence, affection, or gratitude, and he may 
rightfully receive and enjoy such property. 

The right to certain property may be acquired by 
will. Each individual has a right to dispose of his 


property as he chooses, provided he does not thereby 
interfere with the rights of others ; and since he may 
give it to another to enjoy whilst he is yet living, he 
may, with equal propriety, give it to him on condition 
that he shall enter in possession after his death. If 
such gift be not made in violation of the laws of the 
land, the property thus acquired may be rightfully 
held. The right of acquiring property by will is 
allowed in most countries, and, in case no will is made, 
provision is made in the laws for acquiring the right 
of property by inheritance. 

If we could not acquire the right of property by 
will or inheritance, much confusion would arise on the 
death of an individual possessed of a large fortune. 
The property, if not disposed of by society in accord- 
ance with some established rule, would become com- 
mon property, and belong to the first person who 
should occupy it after the death of the owner. To 
prevent the confusion which might thus arise, and to 
dispose of the property in that manner which is most 
natural and just, society has decreed that a man's 
widow and children shall acquire the right to the pro- 
perty which he leaves at his death by inheritance if 
he has not disposed of it by will, and, in failure of 
wife and children, that it shall descend to his nearest 
relations by blood. 

The affection of parents for their children is a uni- 


versal and predominant feeling of human nature ; it is 
therefore presumable that every parent would prefer 
that his children should succeed him in the ownership 
of his property. The rule of inheritance is in accord- 
ance with this principle. We have an example for 
the earliest a«res which shows that it is according to 
God's will for children to inherit the property of their 
parents. Genesis xv. 8, 4, " And Abram said, Behold, 
to me thou hast given no seed ; and lo ! one born in 
my house is my heir. And behold, the word of the 
Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine 
heir ; but he that shall come forth out of thine own 
bowels shall be thine heir." 

It sometimes happens that a man gains a right to 
certain property simply by having it in his possession. 
That is, he has the right to the use Of it to the exclu- 
sion of others, and, if no one can show a better title 
than he, he has a right to retain it as his property. 

Although the present holder of certain property 
may have no title, strictly speaking, yet, if it were 
taken from him and held by another, the second pos- 
sessor would have no better right to it than the first, 
so that a third person might come along and dispos- 
sess the second, and so on in endless confusion. To 
prevent such a condition of things, the laws of so- 
ciety have determined that the man who thus pos- 
sesses property shall be the acknowledged owner ; and 


no one else shall have a right to disturb him in the 

We conclude, from what has been said, that it is 
the duty and privilege of society to establish laws 
concerning the right of property, and that this right is 
in harmony with the principles of morality. So that, 
whatever property a man may acquire in honest con- 
formity to the laws of society, he has a moral as well 
as civil right to enjoy. 

The Christian precepts concerning property acknow- 
ledge the right of individuals to the property which 
they have honestly acquired, and, at the same time, 
warn men against too great a love of wealth. Because 
individuals have a just right to their property, this is 
no reason why they should love money so much as to 
become covetous. When the love of wealth is so nur- 
tured in the human breast, it renders a man more a 
worshipper of wealth than of God. The covetous 
man seems to forget that he and all he possesses 
belong to Grod. So great a love of money is no better 
than gross idolatry, and it is denounced in the New 
Testament. In Eph. v. 5, and Colos. iii. 5, we are told 
that a covetous man is an idolater, and that covetous- 
ness is idolatry. And why should it not be considered 
idolatry ? Is it not as truly idolatry to worship wealth 
or plenty as it would be to bend the knee to the god- 
dess Ceres? 


"We are frequently warned, in the New Testament, 
not to set our hearts on riches. Matt. vi. 19, " Lay 
not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, Avhere moth 
and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through 
and steal .... for where your treasure is, there will 
your heart be also." Mark x. 2-4, ''And the disci- 
ples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answer- 
eth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is 
it for them that trust in riches to enter into the king- 
dom of God!" 1 Tim. vi. 8-10, "Having food and 
raiment, let us be therewith content ; but they that 
will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into 
many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in 
destruction and perdition. For the love of money is 
the root of all evil, which while some have coveted 
after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced 
themselves through with many sorrows." 

Oovetousness is immoral ; and we are taught not 
only to avoid oovetousness, but also to be liberal to 
those who need our assistance. We ought not to let 
our confidence in the justness of our title to that which 
we possess exclude all feelings and acts of benevo- 
lence. If that which we possess is ours of right, we 
have the greater praise for using it liberally in the 
performance of benevolent acts. Matt. v. 42, " Give 
to him that asketh thee, and from him that would 
borrow of thee turn not thou away." Acts xx. 35, 


" I have showed you all things, how that so laboring 
you ought to support the weak, and to remember the 
words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more 
blessed to give than to receive." 

He who trusts in riches has but a poor and uncer- 
tain foundation for happiness, but he who trusts in 
God has a sure foundation for his faith. 1 Tim. vi. 
17, 18, 19, " Charge them that are rich in this world, 
that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain 
riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all 
things to enjoy : That they do good, that they be rich 
in good works, ready to distribute, willing to commu- 
nicate ; laying up in store for themselves a good foun- 
dation against the time to come, that they may lay 
hold on eternal life." 

Such acts of benevolence are evidences of our love 
for our fellow-man, and the charitable feeling which 
prompts us to perform them is the result of our love 
to God. It is this feeling of love to God and man 
which makes the act of bestowing our goods to feed 
the poor well-pleasing in the sight of God. It is for 
this feeling that we may expect God to reward us 
hereafter, and not the mere act of giving away a part 
of our property. 

The blessings of God cannot be purchased with 
money, but he who uses a portion of his wealth in 
gratifying a benevolent feeling, acts in accordance with 


the will of Grod. St. Paul teaches that acts of benevo- 
lence are valueless if they proceed from any other than 
a charitable motive. 1 Cor. xiii. 3, " And though I 
bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I 
give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it 
profiteth me nothing." 

There is an example recorded in the New Testa- 
ment, of Christians having their property in common; 
but there is nothing connected with this act to prove 
that Christians are under obligation to make common 
fund of their property, neither is the right of indi- 
viduals to the property which they possess, denied, 
but it is confirmed. Acts iv. 32, "And the multitude 
of them that believed were of one heart and of one 
soul ; neither said any of them that aught of the 
things which he possessed was his own, but they had 
all things common." We should not infer from this 
verse that Christians are under obligation to give 
up their right to the property which is theirs ; for 
although this was done by some of the Christian 
congregations in the days of the apostles, still we are 
not told that they were under obligation to do so. 
"We are told that they could do so or not, just as they 
thought best. Acts v. 4, Peter said to Ananias, 
respecting his property, " While it remained, was it 
not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in 
thine own power?" 


It seems that some congregations of Christians had 
their property all in one common fund, not because 
they were under obligation to do so, but because 
they thought it would be more conducive to the 
general good. Individuals were being persecuted and 
stripped of their property almost daily. If they dis- 
posed of their goods and made a common stock, then 
no one could have anything he called his own; and 
if any one should be persecuted and put to death, his 
property could not be confiscated, for he had none. 
What he had possessed, would thus be kept for the 
benefit of his brethren and sisters. 

This community of property did not extend so far 
as to put an end to difference of wealth among all the 
congregations of Christians. Acts xi. 29, " Then the 
disciples, every man according to his ability, deter- 
mined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in 
Judea." This was written concerning the disciples at 
Antioch. We infer from the phrase, " every man 
according to his ability," that their ability must have 
been various, and that therefore they did not have 
all things common. In St. Paul's first letter to 
Timothy the expression, " Charge them that are rich 
in this world," implies that some of the Christians 
were rich. 

Although the rich are frequently guarded against 
too great a love of money, and a benevolent disposi- 


tion is recommended, still it is evident that St. Paul 
did not approve of the poor living at the expense of 
the rich. Such a practice would be productive of no 
good in the end, for it would induce slothfulness and 
idleness ; and the idle are not apt to remain true to 
their other moral obligations. 1 Thess. ii. 9, . . . . 
"Laboring night and da y, because we would not be 
chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you 
the gospel of God." 2 Thess. iii. 8-10, "Neither did 
we eat any man's bread for nought ; but wrought 
with labor and travail, night and day, that we might 
not be chargeable to any of you : not because we 
have not power, but to make ourselves an en sample 
unto you to follow us. For even when we were with 
you, this we commanded you, that if any would not 
work, neither should he eat." 



If the Christian precepts concerning property were 
practised by all men, such a thing as the violation of 
the right of property Avould be unknown among men. 
There would be no advantage derived from specifying 


certain modes in which the right of property may be 
violated, nor would there be much advantage derived 
from a lecture on the importance of keeping our 
promises ; for we would be very careful not to promise 
to do anything except what we ought to do. 

The right of property being vested in an individual, 
he has the exclusive privilege of using it, and no one 
else has any right to disturb him in his possession, or 
in any way to violate his rights. Whatever he law- 
fully possesses is his, to the exclusion of all the rest 
of mankind. 

Theft is a mode of violating the right of property, 
by which the peace, quiet, and happiness of mankind 
is too frequently disturbed. It is a gross sin; one 
which is mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures as being 
very wicked. " Thou shalt not steal," is a command- 
ment which must be obeyed by all who wish to please 
God. Stealing is not only a great sin in the sight of 
God, but it is very destructive to men's happiness on 
earth. It destroys our confidence in each other; it 
lowers our respect for man, and causes us to occupy 
much time and labor for preventing this mode of 
violating property, which might be otherwise employed 
more usefully for the benefit of ourselves and our 

All that a man possesses is exclusively his ; it is 
therefore as much a violation of the right of property 


to take a small amount without the knowledge or con- 
sent of the owner, as to steal from him the greater part 
of his property. 

Highway robbery is a more dreadful manner of 
violating the right of property than stealing. This 
sin is one which makes its perpetrator horrible in the 
eyes of all good men. The robber is very justly 
punished on earth with great severity. But even 
when such criminal is deprived of the possibility of 
committing further acts of wickedness on earth, it is 
by no means probable that the punishment for his sins 
will there cease. His spirit will yet have to appear 
before another and more fearful tribunal than any on 
earth. It is useless to say more on this topic, for it is 
hardly possible for any one to read a treatise on moral 
philosophy whose soul is so base, so given to sin, that 
he can perform a deed so horrible as to cause him to 
be numbered among highway robbers. 

Whenever the property of an individual is obtained 
by any fraudulent means — by lying, cheating, or in 
any way deceiving the owner to get possession of it — ■ 
the right of property is violated. 

The temptation to violate the right of property fre- 
quently occurs among tradesmen. If the parties in 
any trade arc not governed in their actions by strict 
moral principles, they are liable frequently to be led 
astray by the love of money. 


With respect to the merchant, we would say, that 
he is as much entitled to increase his property by law- 
fully pursuing his business as is any one else, no 
matter what his business may be. He devotes his 
time, capital, and skill to providing articles for the use 
of his customers, or those who trade with him ; and he 
is entitled to an advance on the price of his goods 
sufficient to remunerate him for his time, risk, and the 
interest of his money. 

It is necessary for the merchant to possess skill in 
selecting such goods as will readily sell to his customers. 
He must know what articles can be most readily sold 
at their market value to those with whom he trades, 
or he cannot honestly realize the profit on the cost of 
his goods which he would have a right to expect. If 
he purchases articles which do not suit the market for 
which they are designed, he cannot sell them for the 
amount which he expected, unless he can, by exciting 
the vanity of his customers, or by deceiving them 
with regard to the nature and utility of those articles, 
induce them to purchase. He who thus supplies by 
deception a want of skill in selecting articles, gains 
unjustly the. money of those who trade with him. 

It is acknowledged by all, that to utter a direct 
falsehood in recommendation of our wares, by ascrib- 
ing to them some quality which we know they do not 
possess, and then selling them to one who purchases 


under this false impression, is a violation of the right 
of property. It is equally wrong for the seller to con- 
ceal faults which he knows his articles have, and sell 
them for the market value of a good article of the 
same kind. He has no right, by any such trickery, 
to make amends for his want of skill in purchasing. 

I can conceive of no reason why a tradesman should 
think it necessary for him to make use of any unjust 
means to dispose of his articles of trade, except a want 
of skill in purchasing. If he has not that skill, he 
ought either to quit the business, or serve under some 
one who has skill, until he is prepared to succeed as 
an honest tradesman. It is certainly true that a man 
who possesses skill in selecting and purchasing articles 
for trade, can readily realize a profit sufficient to 
remunerate him for his time, risk, and the interest of 
his money. 

If the seller should purchase a bad article, being 
deceived with regard to its value, he would have no 
right to deceive those who buy of him. He should 
sell it for no more than its real value; consequently, 
he must realize less profit than he expected. The 
error of judgment is his, and being in his profession, 
he ought to bear the loss, or return the article to the 
firm from which he made the purchase. 

If a merchant, tailor, or tradesman of any kind ask 
of you more for an article than it is worth, you at 



once say lie wishes to impose upon you, you think that 
he is dishonest. In what does the dishonesty consist ? 
The articles are his ; why, then, has he not the right 
to say upon what terms he will part with them ? 
Why has he not the right, if he choose, to demand 
an exorbitant price for his wares or merchandise? The 
reason is this : Every tradesman virtually engages to 
sell at the market price, when he opens a store ; for he 
well knows that it is on the faith of his selling goods 
for their market value, that persons come to his shop 
to trade with him ; and he would not only be highly 
offended, but would be likely to complain of slander, 
if any one should proclaim to the world that he was 
asking more for his goods than their market value. 

Since he engages to sell at the market price, and is 
very anxious to have men believe that he does so, if 
he does not, those who trade with him may very truly 
affirm that he has deceived them and dealt unjustly. 
But in the sale of an article where no warranty is 
either expressed or implied, as is the case in the sale 
of a horse at public auction, the salesman is under no 
obligation to the public, either with regard to the 
value of the article offered for sale or the amount of 
money it brings. 

A merchant would be under no obligation to sell 
his house for its real value, it not being a part of his 
business to sell houses ; he has not engaged, expressly 


or impliedly, to sell houses for their market value. If 
I wish to buy his house, he has a right to demand any 
price he chooses, if he does not endeavor to persuade 
me and make me believe that the price he demands is 
a fair valuation. 

As the seller is entitled to a fair remuneration for 
his time, capital, and risk, it is disgraceful in the buyer 
to wish to obtain articles from him for less than a fair 
valuation. The buyer is not guiltless, if he by any 
of the artifices of trade induces the seller to part with 
his property for less than he has a right to demand. 



The obligation to perform promises is acknowledged 
by every conscientious individual ; and every one 
should strictly perforin what he has promised to do, 
unless he has promised to do something which he has 
no right to perform. 

We cannot violate a promise without being guilty 
of falsehood ; in this consists the sin of violating a 
promise. Levit. xix. 11, "Ye shall not steal, neither 
deal falsely, neither lie one to another." Colos. iii. 9, 


"Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off 
the old man with his deeds." Unless confidence in 
the performance of our promises exists, our inter- 
course in life will be very materially impeded. A 
universal distrust would ensue, and the standard of 
human respectability would be vastly lowered. If 
men should act universally upon the principle that we 
are under no obligation to perform our promises, the 
whole race of man would become savages, and even 
worse than savages, for they do have some confidence 
in the promises of others. Each individual would 
have to provide all the necessaries of life for himself; 
he would have to collect material for his own food and 
raiment, and prepare this material with his own hands. 
Such avocations would occupy his whole time, and 
therefore he could make no advancement in the culti- 
vation of his intellect. 

But men are not under obligation to perform every 
promise which it is possible for them to make. They 
may be induced to make promises which are unlawful, 
and which are for other reasons not binding. We 
will endeavor to show in what sense promises are to 
be considered binding, and in what cases we are not 
bound to do the thing promised. 

The obligation to perform a promise, requires that 
the promiser shall fulfil the expectation which he 
voluntarily excites. It does not require that the in- 


tention of the promiser at the time he makes the pro- 
mise shall be fulfilled, for he might intend to do some- 
thing very different from the expectation which he 
knew his language would excite in the mind of the 
promisee. In such a case, he would, if he performed 
his intention, be virtually lying to the promisee. If 
that were the rule governing promises, they would be 
useless in the transactions of life. Neither is the pro- 
miser under obligation to perform the promise, in the 
manner in which the promisee apprehended his mean- 
ing ; for, owing to some ambiguity of the terms in 
which the promise is expressed, the promisee might 
interpret it to mean something which the promiser did 
not either intend to perform, or desire him to believe 
that he did. The sense in which the promiser believed 
that the promisee accepted his promise, is the rule by 
which the interpretation of it should be governed. 

Whatever expectations we knowingly and volunta- 
rily excite in the minds of others, we are under obli- 
gation to gratify. If we do not, we stand convicted 
of duplicity. 

Persons ought to be very guarded in making pro- 
mises, and never promise without first being satisfied 
that it is right to do so. After the promise is made, 
it matters not how inconvenient the performance may 
be, you cannot retract without some injury to your 
reputation, and it sometimes happens that men cannot 


perform their promises without acting immorally. 
Having promised, in such a case, you are very unplea- 
santly situated, being neither able to perform your 
promise nor retract, without some degree of blame. 

Generally, those who are most ready to make pro- 
mises, perform them most reluctantly. The reason is, 
their desire to please the individual to whom the pro- 
mise is made, is so great at the moment of making 
the promise, that they do not think of the propriety 
or impropriety of such a promise. They know that 
by promising, they excite expectation in the mind of 
the promisee, and he, believing that the promise will 
be performed, is pleased and gratified. This feeling, 
the promiser wishes to excite ; it is no doubt from a 
benevolent motive, but when he reflects concerning 
the nature of the promise which he has made, he may 
discover many reasons why he would not like to per- 
form what he had promised; and it may be, he will 
discover reasons why he ought not to perform it. The 
consequence is, he either performs reluctantly, or alto- 
gether refuses to perform his promises. It would be 
much better, seriously to consider the matter before 
making the promise. There would be but little dan- 
ger, then, of exciting expectations which we could 
not gratify consistently with our duty. But having 
made a promise, that promise is not binding if the 
performance is impossible. 


If the promiser is aware, at the time of his making 
the promise, that it will be impossible for him to per- 
form it, he is guilty of a violation of the law of veracity ; 
but still, not under obligation to perform the promise, 
that being impossible; yet, if the promisee sustains any 
loss by his deception, he is under obligation to com- 
pensate him for the loss. But if the promiser was not 
aware, at the time of making the promise, that it 
would be impossible for him to perform it, if he really 
intended to perform what he promised, he is not guilty 
of fraud. He cannot be held responsible for an 
unforeseen event which places it out of his power to 
perform his promises. 

Promises are not binding when the performance is 

"When the performance of what we have promised 
is unlawful, we are under a prior obligation not to do 
that which we have promised. A man's obligations 
to God and to society precede any obligation which 
may arise from his promise. He has no right to make 
a promise which it is not lawful for him to perform. 
Having done so, it becomes his duty to refuse to 
comply with the promise. 

If he is aware of the unlawfulness of his promise at 
the time of makinsr it, he will be blamable for having 
made such promise, but not for refusing to comply 
with what he has promised. If he is not aware of its 


unlawfulness at the time, but learns that it is so after 
the promise is made, it becomes his duty to inform 
the promisee immediately, that to comply with his 
promise would be unlawful, and that he considers 
himself thereby released from any further obligation. 

Promises are not binding, if the performance would 
be a violation of a former promise. 

In this case, the promiser is under obligation to 
perform the prior promise, and blamable for making 
a second which conflicts with it. 

The intention of an individual to do a favor for 
another, cannot be considered binding as a promise, 
although he may express this intention to some 
individual, who, without his permission, informs the 
one for whom the favor is designed, of this intention. 
In other words, if I intend to do a service for a friend, 
and tell some one else of my intention, without 
requesting him to inform my friend of it, I am not 
bound by promise to do so, if he should voluntarily 
tell my friend of my intention. But if I do not per- 
form an intention as thus expressed, I stand convicted 
of falsehood, unless I have some just cause for changing 
my intention. 

Promises are not binding when known by both 
parties to depend on certain conditions, which condi- 
tions are subsequently found by the promiser not to 


One who needs your services, agrees with you upon 
certain conditions, and you promise to perform the 
work on those conditions ; if, when you begin the 
work, he changes the conditions, or has not represented 
circumstances affecting the work as they really exist, 
you are not under obligation to comply with his 
wishes ; your promise is all that he has a right to 
expect. If you should promise to give a beggar 
something to relieve his distress, in consequence of 
his having related a fabricated story to excite your 
sympathy, and you should afterwards learn that the 
story is false, the conditions on which you promised 
being found not to exist, you are not bound, by 
promise, to give him anything. 



A CONTRACT is similar to a promise ; the rule of 
interpreting and the reasons for not violating it, being 
about the same as those given concerning promises. 

A contract is a promise from each party to the 
other ; the one party promising to do certain things, 


on condition that the other party does something else. 
Each party to a contract is bound by promise to do 
what he has obligated himself to perform. 

There is a difference to be observed between a 
simple contract, or a contract by which each party 
obligates himself to do a specified act, and a contract 
by which we enter upon a relation established by our 

Of the first kind are mercantile contracts. If a 
merchant agrees to deliver certain goods to me on a 
day specified, for a certain amount of money to be 
paid on or before that day ; if I fail to pay the money, 
he is under no obligation to deliver the goods. If the 
merchant contracts to have, say one hundred barrels 
of pork, at a certain place, ready to deliver to me for 
an amount which we have agreed upon, if I am there, 
ready to receive it, and he cannot deliver it to me on 
the day and at the place specified, the contract is vio- 
lated on his part, and I am not bound to receive the 
pork at some other time and place. 

From these remarks, it appears that in a simple 
contract between one individual and another, whilst 
either party performs his part of the contract, the 
other is also bound. But if one fails to comply with 
his part of the contract, the other is no longer bound, 
because, by this one's failing to perform a condition 
whijh is essential to the contract, the contract is vio 


lated, and the condition on which the other was to 
perform his part does not exist. 

The one who holds himself in readiness to comply 
with his portion of the contract, but is prevented by 
the failure of the other, has a right to damages from 
him, to the full amount of the injury sustained. 

In a contract by which we enter into a relation 
established by our Creator, the rule is different. In 
this case, we are bound to discharge our portion of 
the contract, even if the other party should fail in 
many things. And we continue to be thus bound to 
act, until the contract is annulled ; which cannot be 
rightfully done, except in the manner which God has 

Of this sort, the marriage contract is an example. 
The husband and wife are each under obligation to 
discharge his or her respective duties, independently 
of the failures of the other, so loner as this relation 
exists between them ; and this relation cannot right- 
fully be destroyed, except for the reason given in 
the New Testament, with which I suppose all are 

Another example of this kind of contract, is mem- 
bership in the Christian church. If one brother 
violates his obligations as a Christian, that does not 
by any means release others from their obligations. 
Each member of the church knows what he has 


promised to do, and his obligation to perform this 
promise to the very best of his ability, remains un- 
changed, even though every other member should fail 
to perform his part of the contract. 

A treaty between two nations is a very important 
kind of contract, and one which should be very 
strictly observed. The infamous violation of treaties 
has often been the source of wars. Often have men, 
because a treaty was violated, excused themselves for 
hurling the hissing bomb-shells and destructive can- 
non-balls into the dwellings of unoffending babes and 
weeping mothers. Such conduct must be atoned for ; 
there is a bar of justice before which we must all 
appear, and those who are really culpable for the 
violation of treaties will then be confronted by a 
Judge who knows the secrets of all hearts ; from the 
light of whose countenance the wicked will flee. 

There is no better reason why a state should claim 
the right to violate its contracts, than that an indi- 
vidual should claim the right to violate his ; if there 
is any difference, the obligation of a state to per- 
form its contracts is greater than that of the indi- 
vidual ; for if the individual violates his contracts, 
only a few persons are likely to be injured ; whereas, 
if a state violates its contracts, many individuals have 
to suffer. When a state violates its contracts, more 
persons are injured, and a greater amount of suffering 

lies. 333 

produced, than when an individual fails to comply 
with his promises. Most of the wars which deluged 
Europe with human blood during the astonishing- 
career of Napoleon Bonaparte, are terrible examples 
of the evils which are incident to the violation of 
treaties. Though neither France nor England has a 
soul to suffer for the crimes which were perpetrated 
during those bloody wars, still, the rulers and chief 
men of those nations each possessed a soul, and a 
judgment to discriminate between right and wrong. 
A fearful punishment must await the guilty ones who 
cause so much wickedness to be perpetrated. 



This subject, I think, may very properly be dis- 
cussed in connection with a violation of promises. A 
very great portion of the bad effects of a breach of 
promise, results from the lying which it necessarily 
includes ; and we may say that every lie is a breach 
of promise. 

On the same principle that a merchant is under 
obligation to sell his goods for their market value, 


viz., because lie takes especial care to make men be- 
lieve that be does, every man is under obligation to 
speak the truth. Every one, when he speaks seri- 
ously, wishes to be believed ; and if a man discovers 
a doubting expression in the countenance of his audit- 
ors, he feels offended. He thinks that due regard is 
not paid to the words which he utters. But why 
should any one doubt the truthfulness of what another 
utters ? Why should we not always believe what our 
fellow-man says ? Simply because men do frequently 
utter that which is false, when they wish us to believe 
every word which they speak is strictly true. 

I think that incredulity is not a natural condition 
of the human mind, but that it is the effect of educa- 
tion. The child, unschooled in the wisdom and wick- 
edness of this world's ways, strictly confides in all it 
hears, if it understands, and does not doubt your 
truthfulness, even if it comprehends not. But, be it 
said, to the shame and confusion of our race, that very 
few children remain long in this innocent condition. 
Ere long they discover that some things which were 
told them are not true. Too soon they learn the 
nature of falsehood. Too soon they learn that all we 
speak is not true. Alas ! that they should ever ac- 
quire this knowledge ! Alas ! that such knowledge 
should exist for them to acquire ! 

To lie, is contrary to our nature, but it is a habit 

lies. 335 

which can be very soon formed, and once formed it is 
very difficult to overcome ; and although the unhappy 
individual who is given to so vile a practice, is con- 
tinually bringing down disgrace and merited reproach 
upon himself, still he parries the blows which one 
falsehood brings upon him, by another more vile, and 
entangles himself more and more in the vile net which 
falsehood weaves around him. 

The importance of veracity is felt in all the rela- 
tions of life. Without some degree of veracity, some 
respect for truthfulness, men could make no apprecia- 
ble progress in knowledge. Without this confidence, 
teachers would be useless, and all that any man could 
learn would consist in what he had himself seen and 

Without confidence in the veracity of others, this 
American Continent would not yet have been peopled 
by Europeans. If the story of the discovery of a 
new world had been dashed aside as an idle, truthless 
tale, no one would have risked the perilous voyage 
across the broad Atlantic in search of a home. How 
is this confidence in what men say to be felt, unless 
men will tell the truth ? 

Fortunately for the happiness, prosperity, and ad- 
vancement of the human race, there are a great many 
persons who have, from their youth upward, prac- 
tised speaking the truth. But there are others who, 


regardless of the moral precepts concerning truth, 
and the certainty of bringing down upon their devoted 
heads the awful displeasure of Almighty God, speak 
falsely and act deceitfully during many years of a 
wicked life. It is on this account that it would be the 
veriest folly for us to believe all that we hear. 

In view of this fact, a man who invariably speaks 
the truth can freely forgive his hearers, if they exhibit 
some degree of incredulity, when he relates a fact 
which appears to them unreasonable. 

We sometimes doubt the veracity of the best of 
men, because what they relate seems to us incredible. 
It is a custom among men to reject everything which 
appears unreasonable, as being either untrue or very 
doubtful. In this way our progress has been much 
retarded, our reason being insufficient, at once, to 
comprehend every fact that may be related to us. 

The bad effects which lying produces upon society, 
afford sufficient reason why all men should speak the 
truth. All the good effects that the power of express- 
ing our thoughts in words can afford us, are derived 
from speaking the truth. But there is a consideration, 
beyond and above the temporal advantages to be 
derived from speaking the truth, which greatly in- 
creases its importance. It is the will of God that we 
should speak the truth. Were it not for this fact, it 
migHt admit of some argument to determine whether 

lies. 337 

it is more beneficial to us, as inhabitants of this earth, 
always to speak the truth, or sometimes to utter false- 
hood. I greatly fear that many would think it better 
to speak falsely sometimes, and would offer very 
plausible reasons for their opinion. But when we 
reflect that it is contrary to the will of God for us to 
lie, there is no room at all for arguing in favor of 
falsehood ; there is no justification for even an occa- 
sional falsehood. 

There is but one thing that God cannot do— he 
cannot lie. He is " a God of truth." It seems to me 
that the highest motive that can influence man, is a 
desire to be like God. We are told that man was 
made in the image and after the likeness of God. If 
we speak the truth, and cannot be induced to lie, we 
retain in this particular the likeness of our Creator. 
To speak the truth is to act like God. I cannot con- 
ceive of any higher motive than this, for doing any 
act that man has the power to perform. 

The Scriptures abound with the praises of truth 
and the condemnation of falsehood. A few examples 
from the Holy Bible will be sufficient to show how 
wicked it is to lie. Ex. xx. 16, "Thou shalt not bear 
false witness against thy neighbor." In the Proverbs, 
6th chapter and 16th and 17th verses, a lying tongue is 
mentioned among the things that are an abomination 
unto the Lord. Colos. iii. 9, " Lie not one to another, 
'29 Y 


seeing that ye have put off the old man with his 
deeds." In the 21st chapter of Kevelations, 8th verse, 
we are told that "All liars shall have their part in 
the lake which burnetii with fire and brimstone." In 
the 27th verse of the same chapter, we are told that 
" There shall in nowise enter into heaven, anything 
that maketh a lie." 

Such are the reasons why we should refrain from 
lying, and always speak the truth. Many other argu- 
ments of a similar nature might be offered ; but if a 
man will not be induced to speak the truth for the 
sake of promoting his own happiness and that of his 
fellow-man on earth ; if he will not speak the truth, 
because he loves God and wishes to be like him ; if, 
added to this, the terror of occupying a place in the 
lake which burnetii with fire and brimstone, is not 
sufficient to deter him from falsehood, I know not 
what more powerful inducement can be offered to 
turn him from such wickedness. With these remarks 
concerning our obligations to speak the truth, we will 
proceed to a consideration of what is truth and what 
falsehood. Concerning truth and falsehood we observe 
the following particulars : 

1st. AVhat we say may be strictly true in sense; 
that is, the words which we utter may convey an idea 
to the minds of our hearers which is strictly true, yet 

lies. 339 

we may believe, at the time, that we are uttering a 

2d. We may believe that we are speaking the truth, 
when, in fact, what we utter is not true. 

3d. We may speak the truth, knowing it to be true. 

4th. We may speak that which is not true, know- 
ing that we speak falsely. 

In the last two cases our innocence or our guilt is 
evident. We know that we do right when we, having 
a right to speak, say what is true, knowing it to be 
true. And we are fully conscious of our guilt if we 
speak falsely, knowing that what we say is not true. 
But in the first and second cases our condition is a 
little different. In those cases the act really performed 
is not the act which we intended to perform. In 
deciding on those cases we should say that when a 
man intends to speak falsely his intention is wicked ; 
and when he intends to speak the truth his intention 
is right. 

When a man believes that he is speaking the truth, 
and what he utters is, in fact, not true, we should 
make a distinction between error and falsehood. The 
reason he does not speak what is, in fact, true, is 
owing to a misconception of the facts ; and what he 
says is erroneous, but we would not say that it was a 
falsehood, for this word carries with it the idea of 


Whilst we are uttering a sentence which, if written, 
would convey an idea to the mind which is true, if we 
assume the tone, look, and gesture of irony, those who 
hear us will believe that we mean something different 
from what we say. In this way we may be said to 
act a lie, whilst we utter truth. If any kind of false- 
hood is more criminal than another, it is that in which 
truth and falsehood are so blended as to convey an 
idea which is wholly false. Such a falsehood usually 
creates double the amount of difficulty and harm- that 
is caused by speaking a lie without any mixture of 
truth. It is in such a mingling of truth and falsehood 
that Satan delights. 

We may be guilty of falsehood by our actions in 
a number of ways. If we were asked the direction to 
a certain place, and should point the wrong way, or, 
when asked a question which should be answered in 
the affirmative, if we should shake our heads, our 
action would be equivalent to a falsehood, it being 
generally understood that a shake of the head is a 
sign of negation. 

If we utter as truth that which we do not know to 
be true, we are, to some extent, guilty of falsehood ; 
for those who hear us are as completely deceived as 
if we knew what we asserted was false. When we 
utter anything as truth, our hearers suppose that we 
know it to be true ; if we do not, we deceive them by 

LIES. 341 

inducing them to believe that we know something of 
which we are ignorant ; and they expect us, when we 
make an assertion, to tell them if we do not know it 
to be true. Of course a man has a right to express 
his opinion about a subject without knowing whether 
that opinion is correct or not ; but he is under obliga- 
tion to express it as his opinion only, unless he knows 
it to be true. 

When we have no intention to deceive our hearers, 
and are satisfied that what we say will not have that 
effect, we may, if we choose, say things that are not 
strictly true, without being guilty of falsehood. We 
may imagine a case for the sake of illustrating what 
we have said ; or we may write or relate a fable with- 
out being in any way guilty of falsehood. In these 
cases, although what we say is not strictly true, yet 
the idea conveyed by our words is ; and it is in this 
that our truthfulness consists when we speak or write 
something fictitious. 

There are some instances in which most persons 
agree that a man is excusable even if he speaks that 
which is false, with the intention of deceiving. If you 
should tell a robber a falsehood for the purpose of 
saving your life ; or if you should intentionally 
deceive an assassin to divert him from the perpetration 
of crime; or in case yon should tell a madman a 
falsehood for his own advantage, or to prevent him 


from performing some wicked deed ; the crime of 
falsehood would be small compared with the wicked- 
ness which is prevented by it ; and, if the urgency of 
the case is such that no lawful means can supersede 
the necessity of lying, I think it would, in such cases, 
be excusable. We cannot claim that to lie would be 
right under such circumstances, but that to do so may 
be admissible. 

It will not do to extend this privilege any farther. 
If we do, we give entirely too much latitude to those 
who are inclined to indulge a desire to deceive others. 
The merchant might claim that it is necessary for him 
to speak falsely sometimes. For example, a man 
might enter his store who did not pay his debts 
promptly : the merchant might claim that, for the sake 
of peace, with the desire not to give offence to such 
individual, he has a right to tell him that he has not 
the article which he wants. Upon the same ground, 
every business in life may be pursued by some who 
think it necessary to tell lies sometimes, in order to 
prosper. With regard to such cases, I would say, if 
a man cannot, without lying, successfully pursue the 
business in which he is engaged, he ought to quit 
the business, and engage in some occupation which 
does not require so great a sacrifice of one's honor 
and virtue. 

If an individual has no right to know the answer 

S L A N D E K. 343 

to certain questions which he has asked of me, is 
this, lack of right sufficient reason why I should 
tell him a falsehood ? By no means. If he has not a 
right to know the answer to his questions, this is suffi- 
cient reason why I should not answer them, but it is 
no excuse for telling a falsehood. My duty in such a 
case would be to refuse to give any answer. 

Is it right always, and on all occasions, to speak the 
truth ? If it is right for us to speak at all, it is right 
to speak the truth, but there are many occasions in 
which we ought not to speak at all. We have no 
right to speak the truth if, by doing so, we are likely 
to cause trouble which would not be occasioned if we 
said nothing. We have no right to speak the truth 
merely for the sake of injuring the reputation of 



Very nearly allied to lying is another evil of which 
men are sometimes guilty ; we call it slander. It is 
often more hurtful in its effects than lying, and usually 
comprises a double fault; that of lying, and that of 
a malicious design to injure the character of another. 

344 tup: bible and our duties. 

There is nothing to which man has an exclusive 
right, nothing which he can justly claim as his own, 
that is either more valuable or more durable than 
his character. 

It is that, which gains for him the respect and 
esteem of other men ; it is that, which contributes 
mostly to render him happy or miserable in life ; it 
is that alone which he carries with him to his final 
resting place in eternity. 

The riches of Croesus are but trash to a man who 
is dying; he can freely exclaim, "Millions of money 
for a moment of time." His character is all that he 
can carry with him. " We brought nothing into this 
world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out of 

When we are about to leave this world, we look 
upon an irreproachable character as a priceless gem. 
To be at such a time, conscious of possessing a charac- 
ter which is pure before God and man, is a comfort 
with which one would not dispense at such a time, 
for any inducement that could be offered. 

"Who steals my purse, steals trash ; 'tis something, nothing : 
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands; 
But he that filches from me my good name, 
Robs me of that which not enriches him, 
And makes me poor indeed." 


Since a man's character is of so much value to him, 
there is scarcely any injury you can inflict which he 
would feel more keenly than that of slander. 

In a certain sense, a man's character is his property. 
If he is a mechanic, and executes a piece of work 
with taste and skill, all who behold this, will be 
satisfied of his ability to do such work, and any one 
desiring to have work of the same kind performed, 
would be likely to employ him. But suppose he who I 
desires to employ him, has been informed that his 
moral character is bad ; that he is a vile man, and not 
worthy of patronage. If this be not true, the man is 
slandered, and by this means deprived of the employ- 
ment which his ability merits. 

We have as good a right to go behind a man's back, 
and take a hundred dollars from his pocket, as we 
have, by maliciously injuring his character, to deprive 
him of the means of honestly acquiring that amount. 

The injury which the slandered person sustains, 
generally extends beyond the loss of a single oppor- 
tunity to get employment. If the individual who 
believes him to be unworthy of his patronage, in con- 
sequence of the slander he has heard, does not, by 
some means, learn that he has been deceived, the 
slandered man loses his patronage entirely ; besides, 
he loses the benefit of the recommendation which this 
gentleman would naturally have given him. In this 


way, one act of slander might so injure the reputation 
of a mechanic, that he could scarcely get any employ- 
ment in his neighborhood, and would be forced either 
to live in want, or leave the neighborhood. 

The injury which may be done to a tradesman by 
slander, is like that experienced by the mechanic. 
His reputation is injured, he loses the respect and 
esteem of his neighbors and those who deal with him, 
if the slander is believed. Besides the loss of the 
regard which others had for him, without which 
every man must be wretched indeed, he also loses 
custom ; and may possibly be so much injured in this 
way, as to fail in trade, and become bankrupt. He 
had much rather be robbed of his wealth by violence, 
than by slander ; for if robbed by violence, his charac- 
ter would be left, and, by industry and skill, he might 
redeem his pecuniary losses ; but he cannot be robbed 
of his wealth by means of slander, without first being 
robbed of his character, so that, when thus robbed, he 
is " poor indeed." 

The character of the physician, or the lawyer, is 
still more easily injured by the tongue of the slan- 
derer. The effects of slander on their popularity, and 
its influence on their ability to acquire wealth, is more 

The right of a man to the quiet possession of a 


character uninjured by the slanderer, is as just as his 
right to any species of property he may own. 

The rule to be governed by, with regard to a man's 
character, is, to some extent, the same as that con- 
cerning the right of property. You ought to feel 
that you have done as great a crime when you have 
spoken slanderously of a man, as if you had stolen 
some of his money. If this rule were observed in 
society, there would be very few slanderous words 

There is one rule concerning the right of property, 
which seems to be especially applicable to the charac- 
ter. The rale is this : If a man has possession of 
certain property, to which he has no legal right 
further than the right of possession, and no other 
person has a better right than he, no one is justifiable 
in disturbing him in the possession. 

With regard to the character : If a man has a repu- 
tation, no matter how he acquired it, we have no right 
to deprive him of it ; for no individual can possibly 
have a right to the character of another. It may be 
urged as an objection to this, that a man sometimes 
has a reputation for talents or accomplishments which 
he does not possess. In this case, the question might 
be asked, Ought we not to expose his want of ability, 
and bring him down to his proper level ? In answer 
to this I would say, Each individual of the commu- 


uity lias a right to his opinion; and if public opinion 
sustains a man contrary to our judgment, it is very 
likely that he has more merit than we are willing to 
accord him. The fault may be in our judgment. So 
that, if we attempt to set public opinion right with 
regard to a man's merit, we may be injuring his repu- 
tation without doing justice to society. 

In case we think a man receives more praise than 
is his due, we ought not to set about trying to 
deprive him of his honors ; but we ought to lay aside 
jealousy, and endeavor to imitate his good qualities. 

The injury to a man's moneyed interest is what 
the laws of society attempt to make amends for, when 
one is injured by slander. The law cannot pay back, 
or cause the slanderer to restore to an individual, 
the respect of the community once it is lost ; for, 
although his reputation may have been injured by 
accusations which were wholly false, still, when the 
suspicions of a community are once aroused against a 
man, no matter how unjustly, it is very difficult to 
restore him to the position he previously held, and 
restore the confidence of the public as it formerly 
existed. For this reason, the laws of society attempt 
nothing more than to indemnify an individual who 
has been slandered, for the amount of injury which 
his moneyed interest has sustained by the slander. 
The remuneration in such cases is generally very 


ample, so far as money can make amends for injury 
done to one's character. 

When a man is pronounced by the authorities of 
the land, not guilty of a fault which has been alleged 
against him, it seems that this ought to be sufficient 
to restore him at once to the confidence of the public. 
It does, no doubt, restore his respectability, as much 
as it is possible for an injured reputation to be restored ; 
but when a stigma is placed upon the character, it 
cannot always be laid aside at once ; like some stains 
upon the flesh, it must remain there until it is worn 

When we reflect upon the difficulty of removing a 
stain from the character, it brings to our minds anew, 
the baseness and heartlessness of the slanderer. 

The term slander is commonly used to signify the 
circulation of mischievous falsehood. It is so con- 
sidered in common law. The law not holding a man 
guilty of slander unless what he states concerning 
another, is false. 

But even the truth may not always be spoken 
blamelessly. The truth itself may be made instru- 
mental to malicious designs. To speak the truth for 
the sake of accomplishing a wicked design, if not 
slander, is certainly very wicked. 

Slander is thus denounced in the Bible : — Ps. ci. 5, 
" Whoso privily slandereth his neighbor, him will I 
30 ^ 


cut off." Prov. x. 18, " He that hideth hatred with 
lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool." 
In the third chapter of Paul to Timothy, eleventh 
verse, we are told that the wife of a deacon must not 
be a slanderer. That his wife's being a slanderer, 
should unfit a man for the office of deacon, is indeed 
a great reproach upon the slandered. Jer. vi. 26 — 28, 
" O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, 
and wallow thyself in ashes; make thee mourning, 
as for an only son, most bitter lamentation ; for the 
spoiler shall suddenly come upon us. They are all 
grievous revolters, walking with slanders; they are 
brass and iron; they are all corrupters." In Eomans 
i. 30, Paul classes backbiters with haters of God. 

There are many conversations in which slander is 
the principal element. Whenever the character of 
an individual becomes the topic of conversation, and 
a feeling of charity does not dictate the words which 
we utter, we are liable to speak slanderously. 
" Charity thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, 
but rejoiceth in the truth." ' Charity requires that we 
shall put the most favorable construction on the 
actions of others, that their actions will allow. 

In forming our opinions of the actions and intentions 
of others, it is our duty always to put the most favor- 
able construction on them that we can, without 
varying from truth. Charity demands this, whilst 


calumny would prompt us to adopt an opinion which 
is most injurious to the good name of him whose 
actions we would criticise. 

There are very few actions which a man performs 
that may not be construed either as being virtuous, or 
as being wicked. In speaking of the same action, if 
we choose to judge charitably we may call it virtuous ; 
and if we are slanderously inclined, we can give good 
reasons for calling it vile. The best of men, even 
when performing the most benevolent actions, are not 
free from the vituperation of the slanderer ; whilst the 
charitable man can frequently find worthy motives, 
good intentions, and evidences of a kind heart, in the 
actions of men who are commonly very wicked. 

The truth is, there are very few men so wicked that 
they have not some good qualities, some redeeming 
traits of character. The charitable man does not fail to 
discover these, and hence he can always find a reason 
for entertaining a good opinion of the majority of 
men. But he who loves to utter calumnies, fails to 
see the good qualities of men, and only sees the evil 
they do ; and even when a purely benevolent action 
is performed, he can find reasons, satisfactory to him- 
self at least, for deciding that there is some latent evil 
concealed beneath an exterior of candor and good- 

Many of the most popular novels are no better than 


slanders against human nature ; and if read much, are 
calculated to produce just such a character as they 
accuse man of possessing. Much reading of novels 
has a tendency to cultivate a love of slander, and 
lower our opinion of mankind. 

There are some acts which men" perform, and some 
things which they say, that will not admit of a favor- 
able construction. We have a right to condemn such 
actions and such conversation. It never can be our 
duty to make evil appear good. On the contrary, evil 
actions, which are known to be such, ought to be con- 
demned by all good men. But everything like a 
desire to accuse others falsely ought to be instantly 
rejected from our minds, and we ought to view every- 
thing in ourselves like a desire to speak slanderously, 
with holy horror. 

Men cannot be too much guarded in their thoughts 
and words, when they are dealing with the character 
or motives of another. The apostle James gives an 
impressive idea of the evils of an unguarded tongue, 
and the difficulty of speaking nothing that we ought 
not to say. James iii. 2, " If any man offend not in 
word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle 
the whole body. (5,) Even so, the tongue is a little 
member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how 
great a matter a little fire kindleth. (16,) And the 
tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity ; so is the tongue 


among our members, that it defileth the whole body, 
and setteth on fire the course of nature, and is set on 
fire of hell." 

The precepts of the Sacred Scriptures concerning 
evil speaking are numerous. It is a fault which 
will not be lightly passed over on the day of final 
reckoning. Then will all those who have recklessly 
injured others by their evil speaking and their slan- 
der, be required to atone for all the injury they have 
done by an unbridled tongue; then will the cha- 
racter of him who has suffered by slander appear in 
its true light, and if pure, then will he receive a just 
recompense. Ephesians iv. 31, "Let all bitterness, 
and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking 
be put away from you." St. Paul, in his letter to 
Titus, third chapter, says, "Speak evil of no man." 
And Peter says (1 Peter iii. 10), " He that will love 
life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue 
from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile." 

Slander is mostly circulated under the cover of 
secrecy. Men and women very seldom utter a slan- 
der against others Avithout enjoining secrecy upon 
those to whom they utter their vile aspersions. Why 
does the slanderer enjoin secrecy on his hearers? Is 
it not because he knows that he has done wrong, and 
wishes to hide his shame under the cover of secrecy? 
The slanderer usually introduces his calumny by en- 
30* Z 


joining secrecy upon all present. He says, "I will 
tell all of you something, but will you first promise 
never to repeat it?" I would advise my young friends 
on such occasions always to say, No ! and resolutely 
refuse to hear anything from a person which he is 
afraid to tell them until they have pledged themselves 
to keep it a secret. You may be sure that it is some 
calumny which he is either ashamed or afraid to utter 
publicly. Then let not an idle curiosity induce you 
to pledge yourself to secrecy for the sake of hearing 
something which you may be sure ought not to be 
said. Your informant would not be anxious about 
secrecy if he did not already feel conscience-stricken. 
The slanderer does not remove any portion of the 
guilt of his assertions by enjoining secrecy on those 
to whom he utters his calumnies. Secrecy cannot 
take away the guilt of the act. If it is wrong to 
slander a person, it is just as much wrong to slander 
him to one person as to twenty ; if it is a sin to 
slander an individual, it is as much a sin to utter that 
slander to an acquaintance, who is more prudent than 
yourself, as it would be to publish it to the world. 
But if you utter your slanderous remarks to an 
acquaintance, on whose fidelity and good sense you 
can rely, you are sure that your guilt will not be 
known to others. By this means you may injure 
others to a great extent, and still keep yourself con- 


cealed, but jour sin will not be palliated in the least. 
You cannot conceal any species of wickedness from 
that all- seeing eye, which can penetrate even to the 
thoughts and purposes of the heart. 

It is not always our duty, however, to be silent 
with regard to the evil that men do. It is always our 
duty not to speak of the actions of others for any 
malicious purpose, but when good can be accom- 
plished and harm prevented, it is then evidently our 
duty to speak, and speak fearlessly. Whenever it 
becomes necessary for us to speak of the evil actions 
of others to promote the ends of public justice, or to 
protect the innocent, it is then our duty to do so. 

It frequently becomes our duty to speak of the evil 
habits of others for their own good. We can render 
another no greater service than to induce him to turn 
from his evil habits ; to " cease to do evil and learn to 
do well." We cannot do this, .halrever, by speaking 
of one's evil habits behind his back. To effect any 
good, we must gain his confidence and speak to him 

It often becomes our duty to inform parents of the 
evil practices of their children. If we do not, many 
a very worthy young man may be led astray by 
wicked persons, whilst the parents are wholly igno- 
rant of what is going on. But even in this case, 


much caution and some judgment is requisite, or we 
will do more harm than good. 

We know, too well, that all men are not good men ; 
therefore indiscriminate praise is a fault as well as 
indiscriminate blame; but not so great a fault. It 
generally harms him most who practises it. It induces 
others to suspect either the purity of his motives or 
the soundness of his judgment. 



This is one of the most debasing sins of which 
man can be guilty. Drunkenness is not only a sin, 
but it is the precursor of many other wicked acts. 
A man will do many wicked things when intoxicated, 
that he could not be induced to perform if sober. 

Ebriety deprives a man of his caution ; he becomes 
careless of right, and recklessly follows the bent of 
his passions. All the bad passions which exist in a 
man, and which have hitherto been kept in check by 
his caution and a desire to do right, are let loose by 
intoxication ; and he who, whilst sober, was just and 


prudent, when intoxicated becomes reckless, quarrel- 
some, and indifferent to all of his moral obligations. 

Drunkenness is a sin in which one cannot indulge 
without its causing him to commit other deeds of im- 
morality even more wicked than intoxication. Even 
if it did not have a tendency to debase the mind, and 
destroy a man's moral principles, still it should be 
avoided, for it is sinful. It is denounced in the Bible 
as a species of wickedness for which a man will be 
banished from the presence of God. St. Paul ad- 
monishes us, in the following language, to avoid 
drunkenness : " Be not drunk with wine, wherein is 
excess." "Let us walk honestly, as in the day, not in 
rioting and drunkenness." " Be not deceived : neither 
fornicators, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extor- 
tioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." — Eph. 
v. 18 ; Rom. xiii. 13 ; 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. It is evident, 
from what is here stated, that drunkenness is a sin for 
which we will be punished hereafter. It seems to me 
that the punishment which a man receives in this life 
for being a drunkard, ought to be sufficient to deter 
any person who possesses even a moderate share of 
reason, from becoming a drunkard. The temporary 
insanity which intoxication produces, the intense 
sickness which succeeds this condition, and the ridicu- 
lous, not to say wicked, acts which a drunken man 
will perform, ought to be considered punishment 


enough to more than balance the little pleasure we can 
derive from quaffing intoxicating liquors. 

Hen frequently indulge a taste for ardent spirits 
"without having the least idea that they will ever 
become habitual drunkards. They say it is no harm 
to drink spirituous liquors, if a man does not indulge 
his taste so far as to produce intoxication. They con- 
tent themselves with this belief, and by degrees indulge 
a little more freely ; at last they become drunk. They 
excuse themselves by saying, being intoxicated a few 
times does not, by any means, constitute a man a 
drunkard. They ought to remember that to become 
an habitual drunkard, a man only has to repeat single 
instances of drunkenness. All the sin that is attribut- 
able to habitual drunkenness is, though in a less 
degree, chargeable to each individual instance of in- 

It cannot, however, be admitted as strictly true that 
it is no harm to drink spirituous liquors if we do not 
drink to excess. There are, it is true, some men who 
can indulge a taste for ardent spirits, and seldom, if 
ever, be found in a state of ebriety. But the number 
of those who have this degree of self-control, is com- 
paratively small. And those who can thus indulge 
often do much harm by gratifying their taste, for the 
friends who drink with them, having but little self- 


control, will be, by their example, induced to become 

Every man who is an habitual drinker, likes to have 
a circle of friends with whom he can take a social 
drink. This circle increases, others are drawn in, and 
by degrees a whole neighborhood becomes addicted to 
this gross and degrading vice. It may be that some 
of those who have thus been drawn into the circle 
will become habitual drunkards. If they do, the fault 
is, in a great measure, attributable to that moderate 
drinker who must have his circle of drinking friends ; 
since it is by his influence they were induced to 

Those who are thus corrupted are liable to corrupt 
others, whose degradation will become so great that 
their wives and children will suffer from want ; whose 
weeping babes will cling round a famished mother, 
and whose destitute children will wander about the 
streets in tattered garments, unprotected and not cared 
for, save by the wretched mother whose sorrows are 
fast hurrying her on to an untimely grave. Then say 
not there is no harm in drinking, provided you do not 
drink to excess. There is harm, there must be harm, 
when such awful consequences may result from your 

It may be that you have no family to suffer from 
your excesses ; your fortune may be so great that the 


amount which you spend in revelry can be easily 
spared. Your prudence may be such that you will 
never become an habitual drunkard ; still you cannot 
say that your drinking does no harm, so long as others 
less prudent, less wealthy, and on whose good beha- 
vior a needy family depends, are liable, by your ex- 
ample, to commence drinking and become drunkards. 

We frequently hear it said of a drunkard that he is 
a good man, but a great enemy to himself. This is 
often true in the sense in which it is intended to be 
interpreted. The idea intended to be conveyed is, that 
the man of whom we speak is a good man when sober, 
and would be a respectable citizen if he would stay 

It is not true, however, that such men are enemies 
to themselves only. Their influence is exerted in a 
wrong channel, and, by getting others to join them 
over their cups, they become enemies not only to 
themselves, but to the whole neighborhood. 

St. Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, fifth chapter 
and twenty-third verse, says, " Drink no longer water, 
but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thy 
frequent infirmities." This advice of the apostle is 
often quoted to justify the habit of occasionally taking 
a drink of spirituous liquor. But the advice of the 
apostle does not allow drinking wine as a beverage at 
all ; it is prescribed as a medicine. Timothy was to 


take it for the purpose of healing his infirmities, and 
he was to take but little. 

It is a well known fact that wine, taken in modera- 
tion, is sometimes beneficial to health. Physicians 
frequently advise the use of it, when their patients are 
feeble. This does not, by any means, justify the use 
of ardent spirits as a beverage. If too much is taken, 
instead of strengthening the individual, it enfeebles 
him ; and, if persisted in, will most assuredly destroy 

If spirituous liquors are drank by an individual for 
the benefit of his health, as soon as he no longer needs 
such stimulant, he should cease to use it. Even if his 
health should still require it, and he finds that he can- 
not use it without sometimes becoming intoxicated, he 
had better quit at once. The man who cannot use 
wine or brandy as a medicine, without sometimes 
drinking too freely, has no right to use any such 
remedy. If he knows of no other remedy, he had 
better let the disease have its course. For it is better 
to die from disease, than to live a drunkard. 

In Prov. xxiii. 29-32, we find King Solomon's 
opinion of excessive drinking expressed in the follow- 
ing beautiful language: "Who hath wo? who hath 
sorrow ? who hath contentions ? who hath babbling ? 
who hath words without cause ? who hath redness of 
eyes ? They that tarry long at the wine ; they that 


go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine 
when it is red ; when it giveth its color in the cup ; 
when it moveth itself aright. At the last, it hiteth like 
a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." 

Drunkenness disqualifies men for the duties of their 
station, first, by the temporary disorder of their facul- 
ties, and afterwards by a constant stupefaction. It 
often happens that men who are well qualified for 
business, allow their faculties to be destroyed by the 
effect of intoxicating drinks, and. become wholly unfit 
for any trust, lose their employment, and roam about, 
degraded and worthless outcasts. 

Men who have capacity enough to be useful citizens, 
and even ornaments to society, can, in a very short 
time, by habitual drunkenness, destroy their natural 
capacity, and render themselves most contemptible 
and disgusting creatures. 

Drunkenness will most assuredly cause sorrow in 
the family of the drunkard. This consideration alone, 
ought to be sufficient to cause every man who has a 
family, to keep sober. If he has not sufficient regard 
for himself to shun the inebriating cup, he ought to do 
so for the sake of sparing the feelings of his brothers, 
his sisters, his father, his mother, his wife, and his 
children. He must be a vile wretch indeed, who can 
trample on the kind feelings of those who are thus 


near to him, and, unmindful of the misery he is causing 
in their bosoms, go on in his besotted course. 

Drunkenness shortens life. Men may disregard 
this fact, and prefer to enjoy their wine while they do 
live, to living temperately, and attaining that age which 
nature designed for them. Notwithstanding some 
might prefer this course, still, that drunkenness 
shortens life, is a fact which should not be lightly 
passed by. 

Have we the right to choose for ourselves in a case 
of this kind? Have we a right to choose a life of 
conviviality, if we know that by doing so, we shorten 
our existence ? Certainly not. We have no more 
right to choose a mode of life that we know will 
shorten our term of years, than we have to commit 
suicide in any other way. We are as truly committing 
suicide, when we destroy our life by slow degrees, as 
when we do so suddenly. 

The habitual drunkard has no right to consider 
himself anything but a suicide, for he knows that he 
is killing himself. 

It is a question of some importance to determine 
how far men are excusable for the crimes they commit 
when intoxicated. Many persons think that drunken- 
ness is some alleviation of the crimes which a man 
may commit whilst in this condition. It is almost 
certain that men do commit crimes when intoxicated, 


of which they would not be guilty if sober. Why is 
it so ? Is it because they are less aware of the guilt 
of the action, at such a time, than when sober ? I do 
not believe that in most cases it is. I believe that 
most men who commit crimes under the influence of 
intoxication are as fully aware of the guiltiness of the 
act which they perform as they would be if sober. 
The reason they are more apt to perform criminal acts 
at such times, seems to be owing to deprivation of 
caution. Should a man be held guiltless, when, pre- 
vious to performing an act, he has brought himself to 
a condition of recklessness? This can scarcely be 
considered a palliation of the offence. 

It would be a very poor rule to establish in morals, 
that, by sinning, we may bring ourselves to a condi- 
tion which gives us a right to sin. This would be the 
condition of the drunkard, if his being drunk were an 
excuse for the crimes he committed whilst in that 

Morally, he is doubly guilty, if he commits crimes 
whilst under the influence of spirituous liquor. He 
sins by being intoxicated ; he also sins in committing 
the crime. The degree of the crime may be held as 
being less than it would have been had the man been 
sober; but the two sins together would certainly 
amount to as great wickedness as the solitary crime 
committed by a sober man. 


Many individuals, after they have been the victims 
of intemperance for a number of years, resolve that 
they will quit their evil practices ; cease to do evil and 
learn to do well. For a time they succeed pretty well ; 
but they return to the society of their old friends, they 
try to be as jovial and intimate as formerly, but they 
find it impossible ; their friends solicit them to drink ; 
for a time they waver between duty and inclination, 
and finally yield to inclination. Their old habit 
asserts its sway with renewed energy, and they cease 
to strive against it, believing it impossible for them to 

The better plan would be, when a man resolves to 
leave off drinking, to leave his old associates, and even 
to remove to a different home ; for his former asso- 
ciates are not going to permit him to quit the practice 
of which they are so fond, if he remains among them. 





Men cannot live happily in a civil society, unless 
the wicked are restrained from gratifying their incli- 
nation to do evil, and prevented from trampling on 
the rights of good citizens. The virtuous must be pro- 
tected in their rights, and the wicked must be coerced 
into obedience to law, that the state may be prosper- 
ous, and the citizens happy. 

"Whenever the laws of the land are violated, it 
becomes an object of great importance to learn the 
truth concerning the fault committed, to discover the 
guilty person, and inflict such punishment as will be 
likely to deter him from again violating the laws of 
his country. By promptly punishing the wicked, who 
are proven to be violaters of the law, not only those 
who are detected in committing crimes, but all evil 
doers are restrained from gratifying their desires to do 
evil, on account of their dread of the punishment 
which such acts may bring upon them. 

If every citizen of a state would act in strict obedi- 
ence to the moral law, the state would have no need 
of a code of criminal laws, for there would be no 

OATHS. 367 

criminals to punish ; but sucli a condition of society 
is scarcely to be hoped for in any government. There 
will always be some evil doers ; some who cannot or 
will not love their neighbors as they do themselves. 
There are always some who do not feel the restraints 
of morality sufficiently to render it useless to have 
other restraints over them, for the preservation of the 
peace and happiness of society. Consequently every 
enlightened nation has its code of laws, for the pur- 
pose of rewarding the good and punishing the bad. 

We are under moral obligation to obey the rulers 
of our government, and be obedient to the civil offi- 
cers who execute the laws of the land. " Eulers are 
not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt 
thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which 
is good, and thou wilt have praise of the same : for he 
is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou 
do that which is evil, be afraid ; for he beareth not the 
sword in vain ; for he is the minister of God, a revenger 
to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." 

There are some witnesses to almost every evil act 
which men do ; and whenever a man violates the laws 
of his country, it becomes necessary to learn from the 
witnesses of the transaction the whole truth concern- 
ing the affair, in order that amends may be made to 
those who are injured, and the aggressor be duly pun- 
ished. The truth can generally be elicited concerning 


every fact, if the witnesses to it can be induced to 
testify, and testify truly. 

In order to be sure that the witnesses will testify 
truly, most nations have made it a rule to require them 
to take an oath before testifying, swearing that they 
will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but 
the truth ; they are then asked such questions touch- 
ing the affair as are deemed necessary for the purposes 
of justice. 

The object for requiring a witness to take an oath 
to tell the truth, before he testifies in any case, must 
be to render his obligations for telling the truth 
stronger than they would be if he were simply called 
before the court, and asked all necessary questions, 
without being sworn. The object is evidently a good 
one, for the judges must know the truth before they 
can decide justly in any case. But is it really true, 
that being sworn increases our obligation to tell the 
truth ? Are we not always under obligation to tell 
the truth, if we speak at all ? And if we fail to speak 
the truth without being sworn, are we not as sure to 
displease God, and incur the penalty of our guilt, as 
when we have sworn ? I see no material difference. 

If a man lies, without taking an oath to speak the 
truth, he will as surely be punished as if he had been 
sworn before speaking falsely. But this does not 
seem to be the general opinion among men. Some 

OA.THS. 369 

seem to think that to speak falsely, without having 
sworn to tell the truth, is comparatively virtuous. 
Some persons will speak falsely concerning a fact, if 
questioned about it without being sworn, who would 
not dare to testify falsely on oath. 

I once heard of a man, who had more wit than 
virtue, being asked by a lawyer, why he contradicted 
in his oath, something he had said before entering 
court. "Ah !" said he, " I was talking then ; I am 
swearing now." 

From the prevalence of the belief that taking an 
oath to speak the truth, increases our obligation to 
do so, it would seem that it is almost indispensably 
necessary, in order to elicit the truth, to require the 
witness to swear he will tell the whole truth. But is 
there no other mode of impressing the mind of the 
witness Avith a full conviction of the fact, that all he 
does, is done in the presence of God ? and that if he 
testifies falsely, he will be called to a just and fearful 
account for his crime ? If this can be done without 
an oath, the oath had better be dispensed with. If 
the witness feels a proper sense of his obligation, and 
of the evil consequences of testifying falsely, he will 
as certainly speak the truth, as if he had taken the 
most solemn oath. 

The object for requiring a witness to be sworn 
before he testifies, cannot be to make the punishment 

2 A 


for perjury more certain hereafter. This would be a 
wicked design ; besides, taking an oath would hardly 
produce this effect. Our calling on God to witness 
the truth of what we assert, will not cause him to be 
more attentive to what is transpiring, than he would 
be were his name not mentioned. God will surely 
know whether, as a witness, we tell the truth, and 
he will as surely punish us if we do not. 

The object to be obtained by administering an 
oath, may perhaps be as easily accomplished by other 
means as by the oath itself. The responsibility of 
the witness, the fearful punishment which may be the 
consequence of his bearing false witness and thus 
incurring the displeasure of Almighty God, could be 
expatiated upon by the judge before the witness is 
required to testify. By this means, the witness might 
be brought to a lively sense of his obligation to speak 
the truth. 

If this plan would answer, I think it would be pre- 
ferable to the present system of taking an oath before 
testifying. The main object would be obtained, 
namely, to elicit the truth. And no one would be 
under the necessity of doing something doubtingly, 
in order that justice might be done. Christians do 
not like to do an} r thing doubtingly. They are for- 
bidden to do anything, if they are in doubt whether 
it is agreeable to God's will. In taking an oath, there 

OAT us. 371 

is much room for doubt. Some of the best biblical 
scholars are divided in opinion as to whether it is, or 
is not, right to swear in legal matters. 

Some think it right to give evidence on oath, when- 
ever it is required, in administering the affairs of 
government. Others think it is not, and others still 
are in doubt what to think. 

Those who maintain that it is always immoral to 
take an oath, offer, in proof of the correctness of their 
opinion, the fact that oaths are frequently forbidden 
in the New Testament. In the 5th chapter of Matthew, 
34th verse, our Saviour is said to have uttered this 
expression; "Swear not at all." Adam Clarke makes 
the following note on verse 34th : " Much has been 
said in vindication of the propriety of swearing in 
civil cases before a magistrate, and much has been 
said against it. The best way is to have as little to 
do as possible with oaths. An oath will not bind a 
knave nor a liar ; and an honest man needs none, for 
his character and conduct swear for him." 

We are told to use yes for our affirmative and no 
for our negative, because " whatever is more than 
these cometh of evil." 

Those who deny the lawfulness of oaths, in addition 
to what has been said, hold that no one has a right to 
require another to peril his salvation by commanding 
him to do things that are contrarv to the Sacred 


Scriptures ; and they believe that taking an oath is a 
violation of scriptural precepts. 

They can see no reason why the precepts of the 
New Testament can be blamelessly violated in this 
instance, and be binding in every other. As they 
understand those precepts, oaths are positively for- 

They can see no reason why the crime of false 
swearing, which is punishable by human laws, does 
not entail sufficient suffering on the guilty one, with- 
out requiring him to call directly upon the Creator. 

Those who contend that there is no impropriety in 
taking an oath in civil matters, believe that those 
passages in the New Testament, which forbid oaths, 
are not intended to prohibit judicial oaths, but merely 

They remind us that the apostles, on several occa- 
sions, called God to witness the truth of what they 
asserted. St. Paul to the Romans, says, "God is my 
witness that, without ceasing, I make mention of you 
in my prayers." In the expression, "Behold, before 
God I lie not." God is called on as a witness to the 
truthfulness of what is asserted. They also claim 
that our Saviour answered when examined on oath. 
Being " adjured by the living God" to declare whether 
he was the Christ, he answered the high priest. 

Since there is so much difference of opinion as to 

OATHS. 373 

whether it is right to testify on oath, there must be 
some doubt in the minds of many ; and it would be 
the duty of all those who are in doubt whether it is 
right or wrong, to refuse to swear, if they had any 
right to resist " the powers that be," which St. Paul 
tells us " are ordained of God." But since " whoso- 
ever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of 
God," I can see no reason why any man should have 
scruples about swearing, so long as the power re- 
quires it. 

Oaths are somewhat different in their nature : they 
regard either the past or the future. Those concern- 
ing the past are assertory. Having witnessed a trans- 
action, we can assert what is true concerning it, and 
deny what is false. It is of the utmost importance 
sometimes to learn all the facts concerning a particular 
transaction. Unless the witnesses can be believed, 
the duties of government cannot be safely and justly 
performed. Hence the importance of the assertory 
oath, so long as men believe that they will more 
certainly incur the displeasure of God by testifying 
falsely on oath, than by bearing false witness when 
not sworn. 

The oath respecting the future, or promissory oath, 
could perhaps be more readily dispensed with by 
governments. The promissory oath is usually taken 


when a public officer is about to enter upon the dis- 
charge of the duties of his office. 

Those offices, in entering upon which the officer is 
required to take an oath for the faithful performance 
of his duty, are for the most part guarded by requiring 
the officer to give a bond sufficient to indemnify the 
state for all losses which it may sustain by his mis- 
conduct. Besides this, public opinion condemns him 
as an outcast and villain, who fails to act honestly in 
the discharge of his duties as a public officer. These 
are sufficient checks for a man who has any honesty. 
He who would violate his trust, knowing that his 
securities would suffer for his crime, and he would be 
rejected from all good society, would most probably 
not be restrained by his oath from doing wrong. If 
we elect a rogue or a knave to office, an oath will not 
restrain him ; but if we elect honest men, they need 
not take an oath, for they will act honestly without it. 

Oaths are sometimes required in the most petty 
details of official life. The frequency of oaths, and 
the minor importance of many occasions on which 
they are required, is calculated to induce in some a 
want of reverence. Everything connected with the 
will of Grod ought to be viewed by man as of great 

If an oath is taken by a man before entering on the 
duties of his office, he ought never to lose sight of his 

OATHS. 375 

oath in performing his official duties. He ought 
always to inquire whether an act which he is about to 
perform as an officer, is in conformity with his oath. 
It is too frequently the case that the oath is forgotten, 
and the duties of the office are discharged with a view 
of gaining the approbation of the public, of securing 
honor among men, and of shunning the penalty 
attached to a failure in the discharge of his official 
duties. These considerations, no doubt, occupy the 
minds of officers more than the oath which they have 
taken. If these are sufficient to bind a man to the 
faithful performance of his duties, why not dispense 
with the oath ? It is certain that an oath should not 
be used in cases in which it will be considered of less 
importance than some other inducements to do right. 





All of God's creatures are subject to some form of 
government. Everything lives and moves and has its 
being in accordance with laws which God has esta- 
blished, and all must be governed according to his 
will or suffer the consequences of a violation. The 
earth and all the products thereof, as well as the 
animal portion of creation, are subject to and governed 
by laws which he has established. But man, though 
the superior portion of creation, and exercising autho- 
rity over all other creatures, requires more laws for 
his government than all the rest of creation. And, 
notwithstanding the many forms of law provided to 
restrain him from evil and coerce him into a proper 
discharge of his duties, still in many things he fails to 
perform God's will. 



All the rest of creation is governed by those laws 
of God which we denominate the laws of nature, 
except so far as man exercises dominion over a part ; 
and move on smoothly and accurately in their ap- 
pointed course. But man is governed by natural laws, 
by moral law, and by civil law. The first two forms 
of law which we have mentioned, and to which he is 
subject, are directly from God ; whilst the latter, 
though the production of man, has the sanction of 

Obedience to all these forms of law is necessary for 
man's happiness. If he violates natural laws very 
grossly, he cannot live ; or, if he does, his life will be 
only a prolongation of misery. If he does not obey 
the precepts of natural law, he becomes a degraded, 
unhappy being, and no ray of hope illumines his dark 
path, or dispels the gloomy mists which hang like a 
veil over his future existence. 

If he violates social laws, he is liable to suffer the 
penalties which society has affixed to such crimes. 

Man is in every stage of his existence the subject of 
government. From his earliest infancy, until he has 
reached the age of manhood, he is subject to the 
government of his parents and amenable to the laws 
of his country. After he is no longer directly under 
the government of his parents, he is governed by the 
laws of the nation in which he resides; and he is a1 all 


times, and in every stage of his existence, governed 
by the laws which God has established. 

Man has in every age of the world, since the popu- 
lation became sufficiently dense to admit of it, been 
governed by laws established by society. This seems 
necessary for his happiness, his progress in civiliza- 
tion, and to enable him to fill the upward and onward 
tendency which God has made an important part of 
his nature. For man to progress, he must live in 
society ; and to live in society he must be governed 
by laws which will sustain order and promote the 
mutual welfare of the members of that society. 

Man unassisted by his fellow-man, obtaining his 
support from the products of the earth, independent 
of and separate from the rest of mankind, would be 
unable to make any progress in learning and refine- 
ment. Ages might roll by, and he would still be the 
same rude being he was ages before. He would be 
almost wholly unable to make any material change or 
improvement to better his condition in life, to culti- 
vate his mind and prepare himself for enjoying the 
blessings which a beneficent Creator has placed in 
his reach. But, when governed by the laws of society, 
and enjoying the advantages thus afforded, he becomes 
a being entirely different from the rude savage of the 
wilderness. He does not then have to perform every 
service for himself; labor is divided, so that each 


man can devote his whole energy to one pursuit ; 
every necessary article is provided in sufficient quanti- 
ties for all, by every one producing more of a par- 
ticular article than he needs for his own use. 

Some persons perform one service, some another; 
thus every industrious individual throws in something 
to the common stock, and thus every man, though 
laboring for his own benefit, produces something for 
the rest of mankind. So that men living in society, 
and being governed by judicious laws, become, as it 
were, a band of brothers aiding and comforting each 

A feeling of this kind ought to animate, encourage, 
and direct us in our labors. But even if man is not 
prompted to good works by the love he entertains for 
his fellow-beings, still, whilst living in society, subject 
to the laws of society, the products of his labor are 
beneficial to his neighbors. His interest makes it so. 
The surplus products which are the result of his labor 
will serve to supply a deficiency which his neighbor 
feels, who is directing his own energies in a different 
channel ; and he will readily part with this surplus, 
for something his neighbor has produced, which he 
needs. By thus dividing labor, and mutually aiding 
each other, men have made such improvements in 
their condition, have made so great progress in the 
arts and sciences, and have dragged forth from the 
secret repository of nature such brilliant facts, that 


their own works strike them with admiration and 
awe. Such are the happy effects which result from 
living in obedience to the will of God. 

How do we know it is God's will that men should 
be gathered together in society, and live in obedience 
to the laws of that society ? The precepts of the 
Sacred Scriptures teach us this. We learn from that 
source, that we should obey the laws of the land and 
submit to the rulers of our country. 

We have only a few precepts which refer directly 
to the fact that it is God's will for us to live in society 
and be governed by the laws of the state ; these are 
sufficient, however, to establish the fact that it is so ; 
but even without these, we are satisfied, from the gene- 
ral teaching of the Sacred Scriptures, that such is his 

How could we obey the Christian precepts, if we 
did not live in society and conform to its regulations ? 
Could we love our neighbors and yet avoid them, live 
far away from other men, have little or no intercourse 
with them, and have no motives or interests in com- 
mon with them ? Such acts do not result from love ; 
if we love a person, it is essential to our happiness to 
be associated with him ; we love to rejoice when he 
rejoices, to witness his prosperity, and aid him in ad- 
versity. If we avoid society and live far away from 
our fellow-men, separate and alone, or in little squads 


like some savages, we will seldom meet with an oppor- 
tunity of performing an act of benevolence. We 
would soon become objects of charity ourselves, and 
every man would of necessity be engrossed in his 
individual wants, and his sympathy for the sufferings 
of others would be but a feeble emotion. He would 
find it as difficult to " weep with those that weep," as 
to " rejoice with them that do rejoice." 

In God's manner of governing the children of Israel, 
we discover that it is his will for men to live in society, 
and be governed by the laws of the society. 

We have, beside the general teaching, some pre- 
cepts which point directly to the subject of civil 
government. These precepts recognise state govern- 
ment as being in accordance with the will of God. 
The first portion of the thirteenth chapter of Paul's 
letter to the Romans, which we have previously had 
occasion to quote, teaches us the duty of obedience to 
rulers, and that it is God's will for proper officers to 
rule over the citizens of a state, so that good order 
and quiet may be maintained. We are told by Peter, 
also, to obey the ordinance of man. He tells us 
plainly that it is God's will for man to obey the regu- 
lations of society, and the rulers which society recog- 
nises. 1 Peter ii. 13-15, " Submit yourselves to every 
ordinance of man for the Lord's sake ; whether it be 
to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as unto 


them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil 
doers, and for the praise of them that do well ; for so 
is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put 
to silence the ignorance of foolish men." 

From what has been said, it is evident, that it is 
God's will for man to live as a social being, and be 
governed in his social relations by the laws, rules, and 
regulations of the society in which he lives. 

There can be no reasonable doubt that it is God's 
will for man to live under some form of civil govern- 
ment. There are many forms of government among 
men, and no one of these forms is particularly de- 
signated as being most suitable to the will of God. 
Hence we conclude, that men may of right adopt 
any form of government that they think will be best 
calculated to promote good order, and" the prosperity 
and happiness of the citizens. 

It matters not whether a government is monarchical 
or republican, so that it is the form which the people 
prefer, and the laws of the government are founded on 
just and moral principles. 

The real object of civil government is not to restrict 
or diminish the liberties of the governed, but to pro- 
tect every one in the enjoyment of his rights. Man 
considers liberty a blessing; civil liberty is a great 
blessing ; but it does not, as some may imagine, con- 
sist in having the liberty to do just whatever we 


choose, whether it be right or wrong. This kind of 
liberty would not be a blessing, but a curse. It would 
rseult in the worst form of anarchy that the world 
has ever known. Civil liberty, as I comprehend it, is 
the effect produced by a system of just laws, adminis- 
tered by impartial officers ; so that no man is deprived 
of any privilege which he may innocently enjoy, and 
no man is allowed any privilege in the use of which 
he would be interfering with the rights of others. 

Good government, then, is not a means of restrict- 
ing our liberty, but of securing it. It secures to each 
man his rights. Without it, he would have the same 
rights, but would not have the power to enjoy them. 

Good government secures good order, equity, and 
the enjoyment of our rights, and prevents anarchy. 
Any form of government is better than anarchy ; even 
a bad government is better than no government. 
Anarchy is more destructive to human happiness than 
the most absolute tyranny. The French people suf- 
fered more during the awful scenes of that revolution 
which required the strong arm of Napoleon Bonaparte 
to restore order, than did the Eomans under the terri- 
ble dominion of the tyrannical Nero. Without the 
restraints of government, there would be no check to 
ambition, hatred, malice, and revenge. To what ex- 
tent would these not lead evil men ? He is no friend 
to liberty, who is not a friend to civil government. 


We have shown that civil government is right, be- 
cause it is in accordance with the will of God. And 
because it is in conformity to his will, there arise 
from it the following happy results. It contributes 
greatly to our progress in civilization and enlighten- 
ment; it secures the enjoyment of our rights, our 
liberty, and with them it secures our happiness. It 
renders man that wise, social, and benevolent being 
which God intended he should become. 



Several different theories have been proposed by 
authors, for explaining the nature and origin of civil 
government. Some think the present existing forms 
of government have arisen from the patriarchal, in 
which the father ruled over his family and all his 
descendants ; and they suppose that the present govern- 
ments can be best explained by a reference to the 
patriarchal form. 

In explaining the nature of civil government from 
this starting-point, the conclusion is, that a monarchical 
form of government is the most natural. It is sup- 


posed that, the whole family being accustomed to obey 
the will of their ruling parent, and being accustomed 
to regard his wishes with great reverence, they would 
naturally be inclined to obey that member of the 
family as their ruler, whom he should appoint as his 

From this train of reasoning they derive monarchi- 
cal government from patriarchal, and thus establish 
the right of the son to succeed the father as ruler. But 
they cannot pursue this theory far, without adopting 
the principles of another theory, which materially 
differs from the patriarchal. By the principles of the 
patriarchal theory alone, the right of succession in the 
reigning family cannot be established, because there 
is no reigning family in the world, which has con- 
tinued to be the ruling family since the days of the 

We are told that it is natural for the remaining 
members of the family to prefer him as their ruler 
whom their common parent has chosen as his suc- 
cessor, and they obey him as their king. Why do 
they obey him ? Is it because the patriarch has 
chosen him, or because it is. their will to do so ? We 
are told that they obey him, because they prefer him 
to all others, as their ruler. They do not then obey 
him because the patriarch has chosen him, but they 
are influenced by this circumstance to prefer him. 
33 2 B 


So that their obedience arises from their own choice, 
and not from any natural right which he has to rule 
over them. His right to rule arises from the common 
consent of the people ruled. 

The patriarchal form of government certainly did 
exist at an early age of the world, long before civil 
government reached its present degree of perfection. 
A species of government similar to the patriarchal 
still exists as a universal condition of human nature. 
It is parental government. This form of government 
must of necessity exist in every nation, and in every 
age of the world ; for without it the youths of a 
nation could not be prepared for obedience to civil 
government, and when they became men, they would 
not understand their rights or the rights of others, nor 
would they be prepared to respect them. And since 
the physical force of any government resides in the 
masses, there can be no security to any form of govern- 
ment without parental authority being exercised to 
prepare the children to become good citizens. 

When we attempt to derive national government 
from a supposed original patriarchal government, we 
soon discover that it is impossible to apply this theory 
in its simple form. 

The patriarchal form existed, and people were thus 
governed in societies and small tribes, before more 
extended states and nations were formed. It must 


have been, to some extent, the precursor of all other 
forms of government. But it does not follow that all 
other forms of government are dependent upon and to 
be explained by the principles which it involves. 

Man is by nature a progressive being ; and in civil 
government, as in everything else in which he is en- 
gaged, he improves. He makes mistakes, discovers his 
errors, and corrects them. 

During the patriarchal age, he must have known 
the necessity of civil government. He felt the import- 
ance of having his rights respected by others, and the 
necessity of his regarding theirs. He first adopted 
the patriarchal form, and as long as this answered the 
purpose of securing to every man the enjoyment of 
his rights, it was all the civil government men required. 
As man advanced in civilization, and began to form 
more extended societies, he needed a more compre- 
hensive form of government to secure order through- 
out a large empire. One ruler alone, unaided by 
official agents, could not maintain order, and see that 
justice was done. 

When a more comprehensive form of government 
was required, the patriarchal ceased, and the monarchi- 
cal was established. Mankind, in order to secure their 
rights, and enjoy civil liberty, first lived under a 
patriarchal government, but when they found it neces- 
sary, in order to gain the same objects, to institute 


a different form of government, they established 

The patriarchal theory would make government an 
existing fact, which man must take as he finds it, and 
which he has no more right to change, than the child 
has to direct the manner in which his father shall 
govern him. According to this view, there never 
could have been any material change in the form of 
civil government, and we would still be living under 
the patriarchal form ; and, like the right of the family 
of Levi to the priesthood, no one could lawfully rule 
unless his descent were in a direct line from the 
ancient patriarch of the nation. 

There is, perhaps, not a monarch in the world, who 
rightfully rules over his people in conformity with 
the patriarchal theory. In every nation of Europe, 
the ruling family has, at some period of the nation's 
history, been driven from the throne, and superseded 
by some other family, better suited, in the opinion of 
the majority of the people, to rule over the nation. I 
believe this has been done in every nation in the 

Men do not accept their government as an existing 
fact, with regard to which they have nothing to do but 
obey. They have always claimed and exercised the 
right of improving the laws of their nation, so as to 
ameliorate their condition. When this could not be 


done peaceably, they would exercise force. They 
would revolt when the rulers of the government 
became too despotic, and either force them to adopt a 
milder form of government, or they would dethrone 
them, and appoint new rulers. Men will not long 
submit to a government by means of which they are 
as effectually deprived of their rights, as they would 
be without any government. 

We cannot apply the patriarchal theory to any 
existing government, without such changes and modifi- 
cations as will render the patriarchal condition a minor 
part of the theory. But if it would apply in every 
particular, would we not wish to know for what cause 
the patriarchal form itself was adopted by men? 
There must be a cause for every existing fact ; and 
the same causes that resulted in patriarchal govern- 
ment, also induced men to establish other forms ot 
government. In order, then, to explain the nature of 
civil government, we need not endeavor to explain 
one form of government by another, but we must 
endeavor to discover the causes which lead men to 
unite themselves into societies, and form governments. 

Man is so constituted that many men cannot dwell 

together in amicable relations unless the evil passions 

are so restrained and kept in check by just laws, that 

the wicked are prevented from indulging their evil 



propensities, and the weak are protected from the 
oppression of the strong. 

Civil government must have been instituted by 
men, for the purpose of securing to every one the 
enjoyment of his natural rights. Civil liberty consists 
in being protected in the enjoyment of our rights. 
This is very different, however, from the idea con- 
veyed by the commonly received definition of civil 
liberty, which we quote, as follows : " Civil liberty is 
no other than natural liberty so far restrained as is 
necessary and expedient for the general advantage;" 
or, as expressed in another form, When man enters 
into society, "he is to part with so much of his 
natural liberty, in providing for himself, as the good, 
prosperity, and safety of society shall require." 

In harmony with such a definition of civil liberty, 
authors have endeavored to explain the nature of 
civil government ; and hence the difficulties they have 
met in explaining its principles, and the conflicting 
opinions which some who adopt this definition have 
advanced. No matter how correctly and systemati- 
cally they may have reasoned, so long as the basis of 
their argument was not true, their conclusions could 
not be correct. 

It is not true that man yields his natural liberty, 
the gift which God bestowed on him at his creation, 
to society. Would man willingly abridge or alienate 


the rights which God has bestowed on him, merely to 
subject himself to the control of other men ? Think 
you that all mankind would unite in bartering away 
their birthright for a mess of pottage ? No ! there 
must have been some sufficient reason to induce men 
to live in subjection to civil government. 

Civil liberty does not make man, by his own con- 
sent, throw away his natural liberty for civil tyranny. 
Man, by entering society, does not part with his 
natural liberty. He enters society and binds himself 
in a mutual contract with the other members of 
society to respect their rights, they bind themselves 
to respect his ; so that he enters society for the 
purpose of securing, not of surrendering, his natural 

Says one, "As government implies restraint, it is 
evident we give up a certain portion of our liberty by 
entering into it." It is true that government implies 
restraint, and consequently something is restrained 
by it ; but what is it that is restrained ? Our natural 
liberty ? By no means, unless natural liberty signifies 
a right to do wrong ; for the laws of civil governments 
are designed to restrain men from doino; wrong. This 


is the restraint which government implies. The laws 
of nature do not grant man any liberty to do wrong ; 
he has no natural liberty to perform wicked acts, God 
never has granted him any such liberty. Since civil 


government only restrains men from doing wrong, 
and natural liberty does not allow us to do wrong, it 
cannot be that civil government restrains our natural 

We think it has been fully shown from Scriptural 
precepts, that it is God's will for men to be subject to 
civil government. Our natural liberty is claimed as 
the gift of God. Would God will that we should lay 
aside that liberty which he bestowed on us, for any 
gift that man could grant? It cannot be that God 
would will for us to live under any form of civil 
government, if to do so, it would be necessary to sacri- 
fice any natural right which he has bestowed for man's 
advantage. He wills that man shall live in obedi- 
ence to the laws of civil government, because under 
their protection he can enjoy his natural rights. 
Thereby good order is established, and tyranny re- 

Men have united themselves into societies, and 
formed governments by joining together in a social 
contract, to protect each other's rights. 

If government did not contribute to the happiness 
of the people, men would not submit to its regula- 
tions. The physical force of every nation rests in the 
people. The rulers of a government have no power 
to enforce obedience if the people do not will to obey. 


It matters not what the form of government may be, 
it is public opinion that sustains it. 

It is denied by some of the subjects of monarchical 
governments that the social contract among the citi- 
zens of a state is an existing fact. They admit that 
the government of the United States of America was 
established chiefly on the principles of a social con- 
tract ; for the representatives of the people, the men 
chosen by them for the purpose of forming a contract, 
met together and agreed on conditions which all of 
the states ratified. They can perceive in this, some- 
thing of the nature of a contract ; but they do not 
perceive the applicability of the social contract to the 
monarchical forms of government in Europe. Do they 
doubt that those forms of government exist by the 
common consent of the subjects ? Let them recollect 
how feeble is the power of any sovereign compared 
with the united force of the whole nation ; and think 
what he could do if the people did not will to obey 

It is by the consent of the subjects that a king 
rules over them. It is because the people love 
monarchical institutions that monarchies exist ; and 
it is because the government secures their rights and 
promotes their happiness, that they love its regula- 

Is it not a well-known fact that whenever the 


citizens of those governments believe that their rulers 
are depriving them of their liberty, instead of pro- 
tecting them in the enjoyment of it, they either revolt 
from such despotism and demand a change of laws, or 
overthrow the government and adopt new laws and 
appoint new rulers ? In every monarchical govern- 
ment, a revolution will take place whenever the people 
are satisfied that the despotism of the government is 
depriving them of their liberty. 

Since the people have the power to overthrow an 
old government and establish a new one, and will 
exert that power to this end whenever they are satis- 
fied that their government is tyrannizing over them, 
how can it be denied that all governments exist by 
common consent of the people governed? If all 
governments do exist by common consent of the 
people governed, then every government is based on 
social compact. 

In order correctly to comprehend the principles, 
we have only to understand the social contract on 
which it is based. 

In the social contract, each individual of society is 
bound in certain obligations to all others comprised 
in the limits of the society, and all the members of 
society are collectively bound to each individual 
member. In a simple contract, only a few individuals 
unite themselves for their mutual interest. In a 


society thus formed, if all the parties can agree to do 
so, they may annul the contract, at any time, without 
materially injuring any one. As such contracts are 
usually intended to last only a few years, there are 
generally expressed in the contract certain conditions 
on which the society thus formed shall dissolve part- 
nership. It is not so with the social contract. There 
are so many individuals concerned in it, their interests 
are so dependent on the continuation of the contract, 
and their peace, welfare, and happiness so dependent 
on the fulfilment of the contract, that it can never be 
annulled without great injury to many. The social 
contract cannot at any time be rendered null and 
void without causing a wreck of the whole social 

In a simple contract, if one of the parties fails to 
perform his portion of the contract, the other party is 
released from his obligation ; it is not so in the social 
contract. No individual can release another, or release 
society, from the obligations imposed by the social 
contract, simply by failing to perform his obligations. 
In such a case, it becomes the duty of society to com- 
pel the individual to perform his part of the contract. 

In the social contract, all the individuals of the 
society unite together for the purpose of using their 
power collectively to secure to each individual of the 
community the liberty to enjoy all of his rights, and 


to prevent any one from trespassing on the rights of 

Because all are thus combined and act together for 
the maintenance of peace and good order in society, 
and because they have contracted to act as a society 
in the accomplishment of these designs, and since no 
one has a right, as an individual independent of 
society, to perform the work of the society, to act 
independently in the accomplishment of its purposes, 
it has been said that individuals surrender a portion 
of their natural rights to society. 

We are told by Dr. Way land that " every indivi- 
dual promises to surrender to society the right of 
self-protection." This opinion was advanced by 
Locke and Burke, and has been endorsed by many 
other wise men, but apparently without any good 
reason. Do they mean that an individual, by enter- 
ing society, transfers to the society the right which he 
previously had to repel force by force ? If they do, 
the proposition cannot be true. If an individual is 
assailed, or any immediate danger threatens his per- 
son, the law of the land does not require him to risk 
his person or his life by waiting for the protection 
which it can afford him. In many instances the 
strong arm of the law would come in too late to afford 
him any relief. The deed would be done and the 
injury suffered before the law could interpose its 


power in his behalf. It permits him, in such cases, to 
protect himself, to repel force by force, and the law of 
nature allows no more. If there is any difference, the 
law of the land allows a man more liberty in self- 
defence than does the law of God. The law of God 
requires us to suffer injury if any one is so wicked as 
to assault us. Matt. v. 39, 40, " But I say unto you, 
that ye resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee 
on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also ; and if 
any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy 
coat, let him have thy cloak also." It is evident that 
a man does not surrender to society his right of self- 
protection, if by the right of self-protection we mean 
the right to repel force by force, because the laws of 
society allow him more liberty in that respect than 
he had before he entered the society ; more than the 
laws of God allow. 

If the proposition means that, in a state of nature, 
every man has a right to redress his own wrongs by 
the subsequent punishment of the offender, and that 
the citizen transfers this right to the government, 
the proposition is still untrue. Redressing our own 
wrongs by the punishment of the offender, is avenging 
ourselves. All moralists agree in condemning a desire 
for revenge. They reprove it as betokening a savage 
and immoral man, and as wholly contrary to the will 
of God. The Sacred Scriptures decide the question 


at once. Eom. xii. 19, "Dearly beloved, avenge not 
yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath, for it is 
written, Vengeance is mine ; I will repay, saith the 

You may ask, If the individual has no right to 
punish the offender, whence does the state derive that 
right, since the state government has its foundation in 
a contract among the individuals inhabiting the state ? 
How can they confer on the state a right which they 
never had ? You may say, it has been shown that the 
right to punish men for the crimes which they have 
committed rests in God, and therefore no one can have 
this right except those to whom God in his wisdom 
and goodness may choose to grant it. This is true ; 
no one has a right to punish criminals except those to 
whom God has granted this privilege. It is from him 
that rulers must derive their authority to punish 
criminals, and it is from him that they do derive that 
authority. Rom. xiii. 3, 4, "Rulers are not a terror 
to good works, but to the evil ; wilt thou, then, not be 
afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou 
shalt have praise of the same ; for he is the minister 
of God to thee for good. But, if thou do that which 
is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in 
vain ; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to exe- 
cute wrath upon him that doeth evil." 

Individuals do not surrender to society the right to 


punish those who transgress against them, for they do 
not possess that right themselves, and never did ; but 
the officers of government have authority to punish 
criminals, because they are ministers of God, revengers 
to execute wrath on those who do evil. 

Dr. Waylancl tells us that "every individual pro- 
mises to surrender to society the right to redress his 
own wrongs." We have just shown that that right 
does not, at any time, belong to the individual ; it is a 
right peculiar to society. Of course the individual 
does not surrender a right which he does not possess. 

Dr. "Way land has mentioned no other rights which 
he supposed the individual surrendered to society. 
We have shown that these are not surrendered by the 
individual, by showing that he had no such rights to 

To say that society takes away an individual's 
rights, and, at the same time, protects him in the en- 
joyment of his rights, would be contradictory. 

The individual does not promise to surrender any 
of his rights to society. He promises to aid society 
in the accomplishment of its objects, to maintain the 
laws by which the society is governed, and to aid in 
executing those laws whenever his assistance is neces- 

Society promises to protect the individual in the 


enjoyment of his rights, and to redress his wrongs and 

The individual does not obtain anything from 
society for what he surrenders, for he surrenders 
nothing. But, by maintaining the laws established 
by society, he enjoys all the advantages of good gov- 
ernment. This is a blessing to the good and virtuous, 
and a restraint to the wicked only. 

We will give an example, showing how in one 
instance the individual aids in sustaining the institu- 
tions of government, and the advantages he derives in 
return for this aid. An individual pays a small sum 
of money for the support of the officers of govern- 
ment, and the government which is thus sustained by 
his aid protects him in the right of property, and 
secures to him the peaceable enjoyment of all he pos- 
sesses. Thus, in every instance, the individual is fully 
recompensed by society for the trouble and expense 
which he has endured to maintain its institutions. 

It is not only the duty but the interest of every 
citizen to exert himself to enforce the execution of 
the laws in every instance, no matter how trivial the 
occasion may be, how obscure the individual, or how 
high his station. No circumstance of this kind should 
be allowed to affect, in any way, the just administra- 
tion of the laws. 

To aid in executing the laws is promised by every 


one, and we are all under obligation to fulfil this pro- 
mise. If the laws are not executed, individuals are 
not protected in the enjoyment of their rights, and if 
wrongs be not redressed by the proper authority, 
society is of no advantage to individuals. They would 
redress their own wrongs, and very soon confusion, 
disregard for the established government, and a gene- 
ral system of retaliation and revenge, would sever all 
the bonds of society, and, if not checked by a stronger 
form of government, would cause the destruction of 
the greater portion of the citizens of the state. 

The individual aids in sustaining the government, 
but at the same time he is, and necessarily must be, 
entirely in the power of the government. The offi- 
cers, who are bound to use the power of the govern- 
ment for the benefit of the individual, may use it for 
his injury and oppression. The use of this power to 
oppress the citizen is guarded against in the conditions 
of the compact on which the government is founded. 
But the observing of these conditions must depend 
upon the virtue of the rulers and the people ruled. 

It makes no difference what form of government 
society may adopt, if the contract which is entered 
into provides for the protection of the individual, and 
the society performs the conditions of the contract, 
the people will enjoy civil liberty. Civil liberty does 
not depend on the form of government. A man may 
34 * - C 


enjoy civil liberty under monarchical as well as re- 
publican rule ; and he may suffer oppression under a 
republican as well as under a monarchical government. 
Civil liberty can only be enjoyed when the existing 
government protects the rights of the individual, and 
abstains from every species of tyranny. It cannot 
exist under any form of government unless the people 
are virtuous. The more virtuous a nation of people 
is, the more prosperous they will be, and the fewer the 
restraints they will need from the government. The 
less virtuous they are, the more strict the government 
must be to preserve harmony and good order. 

A people who are comparatively virtuous may 
enjoy civil liberty under a republican form of govern- 
ment. Being but little evil done by such a people, 
there is but little to restrain. 

If a disregard for the rights of others prevails, if 
the different classes of society cannot live in harmony 
with each other, if the people's idea of a free govern- 
ment is that every one is free to do as he chooses, 
regardless of right, such people are not capable of 
enjoying republican institutions. If such a people 
should attempt to establish a republican government, 
it would soon terminate in anarchy, and they would at 
last be compelled to resort to a despotic government to 
restore order and quiet in the nation. 

A people who lack virtue, will not be governed by 


an innate regard for morality, and disregard Christian 
precepts, need not attempt to establish a republican 
government. Civil liberty cannot be enjoyed by such 
a people under such a form of government. 

The form of government adopted by any nation 
must be suited to the moral condition of the inhabit- 
ants of the nation. 

In proportion as the amount of virtue increases, the 
power of the government may be diminished, and in 
proportion to the lack of virtue, the strength of the 
government must be increased. One nation of people 
may be sufficiently virtuous to live happily under a 
republican government, whilst another would be far 
more happy under a monarchy. Their virtue being 
less, the power of the government would have to be 
more consolidated, so that it could, at any time, com- 
mand a force sufficient to compel refractory indivi- 
duals to perform the conditions of their contract. 

Since it is true that the nation which possesses the 
greatest amount of virtue requires the least aid from 
civil government to secure individual rights, since 
only comparatively virtuous people can enjoy civil 
liberty under republican institutions, it follows that as 
soon as a nation of people now fit to enjoy republican 
institutions, degenerates and becomes less virtuous, 
those people lose the power of enjoying civil liberty 


under such a form of government, and are compelled 
to adopt some more consolidated form. 

The American people should cultivate every vir- 
tuous principle with earnest zeal ; for upon their virtue 
depends the perpetuity of the liberal form of govern- 
ment of which they are justly proud. The people of 
America have already proved to the world that they 
did possess virtue enough to live happily under a 
republican government. But they have yet to prove, 
in the ages to come, that the amount of virtue neces- 
sary to enable a nation of people to live happily 
under a republican government, can be kept alive in 
the hearts of the people who live under a government 
so liberal. Already there are some symptoms of 
degeneracy from that high standard of virtue which 
enabled our fathers to live happily under the repub- 
lican government which they established. Already 
there is a growing disregard of the rights of others. 
This must be checked ; we must respect each other's 
rights by reason of our own virtue, or we must have 
a government which will compel us to respect our 
neighbor's rights, even if we love him not. 

The fundamental principles of the social compact 
are sometimes expressed in a written document ; such 
is the case in the United States. In some other 
countries, these principles are established by uncon- 
tested usage ; such is the case in Great Britain. In 


either case, those principles and practices, whether ex- 
pressed or understood, which constitute the social 
compact by which the inhabitants of a nation are 
bound together under one government, are called the 
constitution of the country. 

After the citizens of a country have assembled 
together and formed a constitution which contains the 
principles on which they are to act as one nation, 
they appoint persons who are capable and trustworthy 
to enact laws which are applicable to all the trans- 
actions between men, in which one party is liable to 
disturb the rights of the other. These laws must be 
in accordance with the constitution. 

The men who are chosen to enact laws are, as a 
body, called the legislature of the state; and each 
member of the legislature is called a legislator. 

The laws being enacted, in obedience to which the 
citizens of the nation are required to act, it becomes 
necessary, whenever an individual is accused of having 
violated those laws, for some one to decide whether 
the accused has really violated the law, and, if found 
guilty, to declare what punishment the law requires 
him to suffer. It becomes necessary then, after a 
people has formed a social compact, and appointed a 
legislature, which has enacted the necessary laws in ac- 
cordance with the original contract, to appoint also a 
judicial branch of government. We must have judges 


to decide whether an accused individual has really 
violated the law, and, if so, what punishment must, in 
obedience to the law, be inflicted. 

After the law has been enacted by the legislative 
branch of government, has been violated by the indi- 
vidual, he has been found guilty by the judges, and 
the legal sentence pronounced, there must be some 
one to execute the sentence. We must have governors, 
sheriffs, &c, to constitute the executive branch of 

Civil government is naturally divided into three 
parts or branches ; viz., the legislative, the judicial, 
and the executive. Each of these departments of 
government is essentially independent of the other, 
and responsible to society for the acts which it may 

If the legislature enacts laws in violation of the 
social contract, and these laws are enforced, this is 
tyranny on the part of the legislature, and society is 
the sufferer. Society has, I think, a right to repudiate 
such acts of a legislature, and, as soon as may be con- 
sistently with justice, appoint another legislative body 
composed of men who are more worthy and more 
virtuous than their predecessors. 

If the judges do not decide correctly, according to 
the constitutional enactments of the legislature, society 
is again the sufferer, and must endeavor to have 


judges who are more worthy of that important trust. 
And if the sheriff does not execute the sentence of the 
judge, society is again the injured party, and will, as 
soon as it is possible to do so consistently with their 
mutual obligations, rid itself of an executive officer 
who has proved himself to be unworthy of the people's 



As it is the province of the legislator to make the 
laws by which a nation is to be governed, it becomes 
one of his first duties to make himself acquainted 
with the nature of the compact by which the people 
whose representative he is, are bound together. He 
must know all the conditions of the contract, and 
fully appreciate the obligations which devolve on 
both society and the individuals composing the society, 
by reason of that contract. 

Every law which he enacts, or to which he assents, 
must be in accordance with that contract ; and he goes 
beyond the privileges of his office, if he proposes or 
assents to an act which in any way conflicts with the 


It being a part of his duty to enact laws by which 
society, and every individual of the state, are to be 
governed, he ought to understand the relation which 
exists between the individual and society, and the 
mutual obligations of each. He ought to know what 
are the rights of individuals, and what the rights of 
society. Without this knowledge, he cannot deter- 
mine concerning an act, whether it is equitable or 

He is the representative of the people, to enact 
laws which will secure to every man the enjoyment 
of his rights. How can he do this, unless he knows 
what are the rights of individuals ? Unless he is 
properly prepared to discharge the duties of his office, 
instead of being a sentinel on the watch-tower of ■ 
liberty, he only serves as a channel through which 
worse, though wiser men than he, may pass to crush 
the civil liberty of those who have confided to him 
the care of their dearest rights. He it is, in whom 
society trusts for the enactment of such laws as are 
necessary for the maintenance of peace and good order 
in a state, and by whose enactments the constitution 
of the state is to be kept sacred and inviolate. If he 
is ignorant of the fundamental principles of the social 
contract on which the government is based, how can 
he know that the laws which he would enact, are in 
accordance with those principles ? Without such 


knowledge, lie is neither capable of guarding the 
rights of the people, nor of maintaining the perma- 
nency of the established government. He must know 
the rights and powers of the rulers of a nation, as well 
as those of the citizens, before he is prepared to enact 
just laws, which will promote the welfare and happi- 
ness of all those who are affected by them. 

Having made himself acquainted with the nature 
of his obligations, and prepared himself to enact laws 
which are in harmony with the constitution, equitable, 
and conducive to the best interests of all whom they 
may concern, it becomes his duty to exercise the 
power which has been conferred on him, strictly within 
the limits allowed, for the good of the whole society. 
It is his duty to act independently of any sectional or 
party motive ; without partiality, to carry out the 
principles of the constitution of his country, and to 
do no unjust act to favor any party or section. 

The legislator is not merely the representative of 
a party, or a particular section, but he is a lawgiver 
for all the citizens of a state. If no one had to be 
governed by the laws which he may enact, except 
the individuals of the party by which he is promoted, 
his obligations would be to that party alone ; but 
since all the citizens of the state are to be governed 
by the laws which he enacts, they are all interested, 
and all either benefited or injured by the use he makes 


of the power conferred on him. For which reason, 
he is bound to carry out the principles of the constitu- 
tion, with a view of promoting the welfare and happi- 
ness of all the citizens of the state. 

He has no right in any instance to overstep the 
limits of the power granted him by the constitution. 
If he usurps any power not granted, he assumes him- 
self the fountain of power, and, if permitted to retain 
a power thus usurped, he establishes the false and 
dangerous principle that the legislative branch of 
government is the fountain of power in the state. 
By continuing to act on this principle, the authority 
of the legislature might become absolute and tyran- 

The judicial officer is also bound to act in accord- 
ance with the constitution of the state. It is his duty 
to decide all cases within his jurisdiction, according to 
the laws which have been enacted in conformity with 
the requirements of the constitution. But since no 
branch of government has a right to enact laws in 
violation of the original contract, and the judge has a 
right to decide upon the constitutionality of a law 
before he enforces it, if the legislature should abuse 
its privilege and violate the principles of the constitu- 
tion, the judges are under no obligation to enforce 
such enactments. Thus the power of the judge is a 
check to the authority of the legislature. If that 


body should enact unconstitutional laws, society would 
not be very much injured thereby, if the judges were 
just and discreet. 

The right of appointing the judicial officers may be 
vested in the legislative or executive branch of govern- 
ment, or the judges may be elected to office by the 

It matters not whether a judge be chosen by the 
people or appointed to office, his obligations are the 
same, and he is responsible to society for his manner 
of discharging the duties of his office. It is his duty 
to see that justice is done to each individual of society, 
in the manner prescribed in the laws of the land, and 
he has no right to allow his judgment to be biassed by 
the legislature, if that body has appointed him to the 

To provide against any corruption of this kind, and 
render the judicial branch of government independent 
in the discharge of its duties, in fact as well as in 
principle, the judges should be chosen by the suf- 
frages of the people. 

It being a duty of the judge to decide upon the con- 
stitutionality of a law before he enforces it, he ought 
to understand the principles of the contract in accord- 
ance" with which he must decide. 

The jury forms a part of the judicial agents of a 
government, and each juror is bound to decide on all 


cases which come before him, with scrupulous im- 
partiality, according to the best of his ability. 

It is also the duty of each one to endeavor thoroughly 
to understand the case on which he is to decide, and 
to become acquainted with the true intent of the law 
in that case. 

The duty of an executive officer is simply to per- 
form promptly and impartially whatever the legisla- 
tive and judicial branches of government have ordered 
to be done. He has no authority to decide concerning 
the constitutionality of a law. Therefore, if he is re- 
quired by the other branches of government to do 
something which he believes to be unconstitutional, 
his only resource is to resign. He has no right to 
hold the office and refuse to perform duties which 
others properly authorized have required of him, and 
he cannot conscientiously perform an act which he 
deems unconstitutional. 

The chief magistrate of a government usually has 
authority both as a legislative "and as an executive 
officer. Whilst acting as a legislative officer, his obli- 
gations are the same as those of other legislative offi- 
cers, and he is bound by the same rules. As an 
executive officer, he is bound to execute what is 
required of him by law, not retaining any legislative 
power by which his acts as an executive officer shall 
be influenced. 


The duties of citizens of a state include the duties 
of every individual inhabiting that state, comprising 
all the officers as well as private citizens. The first 
duty of all, as members of the same society and form- 
ing one body politic, is to maintain inviolate the ori- 
ginal contract by which they are united, and in 
accordance with which they have formed a civil 
government. It is the duty of the officers of the state 
especially to guard the constitution. 

Inasmuch as the individuals of a state have bound 
themselves together in a social contract, it becomes 
the duty of every citizen to observe the conditions of 
the contract, and live in obedience to the laws which 
are enacted in conformity therewith. It is also the 
duty of each individual to aid in enforcing the laws 
of the land. 

If individuals allow the wicked to trample on the 
laws with impunity, they are making a sacrifice of the 
power which protects their civil liberties, and allow- 
ing good order to be banished from the state. It is 
their duty to endeavor to secure to every one the pro- 
tection of his rights, and to make an effort to procure 
for every injured individual just and adequate redress. 
By thus uniting in carrying out the objects of govern- 
ment, good order, peace, and the enjoyment of our 
rights will be secured, and civil government will be a 
useful agent in promoting the happiness of mankind. 


As the objects of society cannot be accomplished 
without the institutions of civil government, and civil 
government cannot be carried on without expense, it 
becomes the duty of every citizen cheerfully to bear 
his portion of the expense. The agents necessary for 
carrying on the work of civil government must be 
supported by the state, or they cannot do the work 
required of them. The means must be furnished, 
either directly or indirectly, by the citizens. 

Society is morally responsible for the kind of agents 
chosen to perform the duties of officers of the govern- 
ment. It is therefore the duty of each member of 
society to be very careful not to cast his vote in favor 
of any one who will probably make an unworthy 

the end: 




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